Twice-Bankrupt Just Rebranded “Battalion Oil” Is Latest Upside Down Energy Corp. To Get Trump Bailout

HELENA, MT According to breaking news from The Guardian and research by Accountable.US, the Trump administration granted an $2.2 million taxpayer-funded bailout from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to oil and natural gas corporation Battalion Oil, which has filed for bankruptcy twice in the last three years, paid its top executives over $9 million, and just mysteriously changed its name from Halcón Resources Corp. at the beginning of the year.

“The Trump administration continues to dole out millions of tax dollars to bankrupt big oil corporations. This mismanagement is inexcusable when unemployment is at historic levels,” said Jayson O’Neill, Accountable.US spokesperson. “But Trump would rather bail out his big oil allies, even a twice-bankrupt corporation that showered its top executives with millions, than help real small businesses.”

Battalion Oil paid its CEO north of $5 million and other executives over $4 million the same year it filed for bankruptcy. Until January 2020, Battalion Oil was known as Halcón Resources Corp., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy twice in the last three years. The latest declaration of bankruptcy came in August 2019, and came after the New York Stock Exchange scrutinized the company after its stock price “fell below acceptable levels.” 

These filings were compiled as part of an ongoing tracking project by Accountable.US. TrumpBailouts.org documents the billion-dollar corporations and other large companies that have received taxpayer assistance under the CARES Act, and what advantages and assets they had going into the COVID-19 crisis that most small businesses could never access.

According to watchdog group Accountable.US’s tally, the oil and gas sector has received over $100 million from the PPP so far and the ‘Mining’ sector, which includes oil and gas, has been awarded over $3.9 billion. Senate and House lawmakers introduced new legislation last week that would prohibit the Trump administration from bailing out big oil corporations. 

Previously controversial PPP grantees include a foreign-owned uranium mining corporation with ties to the Trump administration, oil corporations that spent millions on stock buybacks, a Indiana-based coal corporation with a former Trump official as its lobbyist, at least two companies that market their ability to ship U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas, major luxury hotel chains, a fashion model agency, and even the L.A. Lakers.  

BACKGROUND: The Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program has been plagued with reports of legitimate small businesses unable to access the help the President claimed would come in “record time”. They have faced a bureaucratic maze often ending in delays and rejection as banks reportedly prioritized those “with the best relationships — not the neediest or most deserving.” A recent survey of small businesses found only 13% of the 45% who applied for a PPP loan were ever approved, and experts believe that nearly 90% of minority and women small business owners have been shut out of the program. Meanwhile, CEOs of large companies have managed to coast through the process. Well over 300 publicly-traded firms or conflicted companies, some worth more than $100 million, have received over a billion dollars in taxpayer money. It’s no wonder the Trump administration has shied away from transparency in this process.

The Trump Administration Bailed Out Battalion Oil Corp, Which Has Filed For Bankruptcy Twice In Three Years And Whose CEO Has Ties To Entities Represented By Interior Sec. David Bernhardt

In An Attempt To Hide From Their Past, Oil and Gas Corporation Changed Name From Halcón Resources To Battalion Oil After Two Bankruptcies In Three Years

Battalion Oil Used To Be Named Halcón Resources Corp….

Battalion Oil Changed Its Named To Halcón Resources Corp After Filing For Bankruptcy In October 2019. “Houston-based Halcón Resources Corp. has changed its name to Battalion Oil Corp., according to a Jan. 27 press release.” [Houston Business Journal, 01/28/20]

…Which Underwent Two Bankruptcies In Three Years…

Halcón Resources Corp Has Filed For Bankruptcy Twice In The Last 3 Years. “Previously, Halcón came under scrutiny in May by the New York Stock Exchange after its stock price fell below acceptable levels. The NYSE suspended trading on Halcón stock ahead of schedule in July as the company made overtures toward a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, its second in three years. Halcón emerged from bankruptcy in October.” [Houston Business Journal, 01/28/20]

…And Yet Had Millions To Shower On Its Halcón Resources Executives….

  • In 2019, Former Halcón Resources Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and President Floyd C. Wilson made a total of $5,194,800. [Battalion Oil Corp DEF14A, 04/08/20]
  • In 2019, Halcón Resources Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer David S. Elkouri made a total of $1,828,894. [Battalion Oil Corp DEF14A, 04/08/20]
  • In 2019, Halcón Resources Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Treasurer Mark J. Mize made a total of $2,223,268. [Battalion Oil Corp DEF14A, 04/08/20]

…While Battalion Oil’s Current CEO And Director Richard Little Has Been Involved In Entities With Ties To Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.

In June 2019, Battalion Oil Named Richard Little, Who Worked At Halliburton Energy Service And EP Energy, Their New CEO. “Mr. [Richard] Little is a petroleum engineer with 23 years’ experience in the energy business.  He was most recently Chief Executive Officer of Ajax Resources, which grew significantly under his leadership and was sold to Diamondback Energy late last year.  Richard started his career as a completions engineer with Halliburton Energy Service and prior to his tenure at Ajax held progressive roles in operations management with EP Energy and its predecessors.” [Halcón Resources Press Release, 06/10/19]

Richard Little Is An “Active Member” With The Independent Petroleum Association Of America.  “He is an active member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, the American Petroleum Institute, and the Independent Petroleum Association of America.” [Battalion Oil Corp Executive Leadership, accessed 05/13/20]

David Bernhardt Was Recused from Working on Particular Matters Involving Halliburton Energy Services, LLC

David Bernhardt Was Recused From Working On Particular Matters Involving Halliburton Energy Services, LLC Until August 3, 2019 Under EO 13770. [Bernhardt Ethics Agreement, 8/15/17]

  • Bernhardt Was Also Recused From Working On Particular Matters Involving Halliburton Energy Services, LLC Until July 29, 2018, Under 5 CFR § 2635.502. [Bernhardt Ethics Agreement, 8/15/17]

Lobbying Reports Initially Showed Bernhardt Had Lobbied for Access Industries 

Then-Interior Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt Was Found To Have Been Registered As A Lobbyist For Access Industries. “Two senior Trump administration officials were once registered as lobbyists for an investment company controlled by a Soviet-born industrialist who made billions doing business with newly sanctioned Russian oligarchs. …Makan Delrahim is now the assistant attorney general for the Antitrust Division in the Department of Justice, after rising from his original appointment as deputy White House counsel and deputy assistant to the president. David Bernhardt is the No. 2 official in Trump’s Department of the Interior….Both men registered as lobbyists in 2011 and 2012 for Access Industries, a holding company controlled by billionaire Leonard Blavatnik, according to public filings reviewed by VICE News. And though they are far from the only D.C. lobbyists to get plum jobs in the Trump administration, the connection to Blavatnik, long in business with billionaire associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, reveals yet another link between Russia and senior Trump officials.” [Vice News, 04/13/18].

  • EP Energy Is A Subsidiary Of Access Industries. “EP Energy Corporation (EP Energy), a Delaware Corporation formed in 2013, is an independent exploration and production company engaged in the acquisition and development of unconventional onshore oil and natural gas properties in the United States. On May 24, 2012, affiliates of Apollo Global Management LLC (together with its subsidiaries, Apollo), Riverstone Holdings LLC (Riverstone), Access Industries (Access) and Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC) (collectively, the Sponsors) and other co-investors acquired the predecessor entity to EP Energy for approximately $7.2 billion in cash as contemplated by a merger agreement among El Paso Corporation (El Paso) and Kinder Morgan, Inc. (KMI).  Hereinafter, this acquisition is referred to as the “Acquisition” with EP Energy Corporation referred to as the successor and the acquired entities referred to as the predecessor for financial accounting and reporting purposes.” [EP Energy Corporation 10-K, accessed 05/13/20]

David Bernhardt was Recused from Working on Particular Matters Involving the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA).

David Bernhardt was Recused from Working on Particular Matters Involving IPAA until August 3, 2019 Under EO 13770. [Bernhardt Ethics Agreement, 8/15/17]

Under Its Previous Name Halcón Resources, Battalion Oil Corp Has Been Fined At Least $341,942 By The Department Of Labor And Environmental Protection Agency For Multiple Violations

Halcón Resources Violations Ranged From Oil And Gas Support Activities To A Violation Regarding Air Quality Standards.

According To The United States Department Of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Halcón Resources Had One Violation Relating To “Support Activities for Oil and Gas Operations” On April 4th, 2012, Resulting In A Penalty Of $189,000. [Inspection: 316046051 – Halcon Resources Corporation Dba W.G. Operating, accessed 05/13/20]

According To The Environmental Protection Agency, Halcón Resources Had Was Issued A “Notice Of Violation” For “Implementation Plan for National Primary and Secondary Ambient Air Quality Standards” On September 17th, 2018, Resulting In A $110,000 Penalty. [EPA Civil Enforcement Case Report 08-2018-0073, accessed 05/13/20]

According To The Environmental Protection Agency, Halcón Resources Was Issued One Administrative Penalty Order On March 20th, 2015, Resulting In A $42,942 Penalty. [EPA Civil Enforcement Case Report For 08-2015-0039, accessed 05/13/20]

###