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Whiting Petroleum overleveraged, underhedged: Expert

Jackson Burke
Whiting Petroleum seeks buyer: Reports

The 50 percent fall in oil prices may have claimed its first casualty in the energy sector.

Shares of Whiting Petroleum leaped as much as 12 percent on Monday, as rumors flew about the independent oil production firm seeking a buyer. Multiple reports suggest Whiting is actively contacting potential buyers.

The rumors are not surprising to Eric Otto, director of Energy Research at CLSA Americas.

"Our stock analysis shows that Whiting is highly leveraged and has a challenging time to generate their cash flow, paired up with the spring round of borrowing-based redeterminations — it's not really a surprise, the news that broke late Friday and into Saturday," Otto told CNBC's "Power Lunch" on Monday.

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In December 2014, Whiting completed its purchase of Kodiak Oil and Gas for $3.8 billion, which only added to its liquidity issues as oil plunged.

"We published a note last week on Whiting Petroleum ahead of the spring round of borrowing-based reductions, and in the note we found a potential liquidity shortfall for Whiting by the end of the year, based on a reduction in the borrowing base, coupled with their spending plans and also their ability to generate cash," said Otto.

"We highlighted in our note three options for the company. We saw them issuing equity, reducing their cap-ex, and then the third option, which they'd noted earlier, is potentially selling assets. So the fourth option of a potential sale is relatively consistent with what we found about liquidity for the company."