American Eagle Energy seeks bankruptcy protection

HOUSTON — Another small U.S. oil company has succumbed to the slump in crude prices.

Colorado-based producer American Eagle Energy Corp. on Friday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Denver, becoming the latest in a handful of firms to seek to restructure its debt in court.

The company, which had focused on oil drilling in the Bakken Shale in North Dakota, had 19 employees in the first quarter, according to regulatory filings. Court papers said the firm had $211.9 million in assets and $215.2 million in debt.

In late December, American Eagle had said it would quit drilling until oil prices improved, and was the first to completely stall its drilling plans amid the oil slump.

It had $175 million in high-yield corporate debt, part of the more than $240 billion in so-called junk bonds the U.S. shale oil industry had taken on before crude prices fell to fuel drilling operations from Texas to North Dakota.

Oil producers Quicksilver Resources, Dune Energy and BPZ Resources have all sought bankruptcy protection, as has oil field services company Cal Dive International, in recent months.