• Gulfport Energy is seeking to eliminate more than $1 billion in debt and to cancel or renegotiate firm transportation contracts that it said drove it to enter bankruptcy protection. • The two shale producers are calling it a “merger of equals” and will share management duties once the transaction closes. The combined company aims to become the fourth-largest producer of tight oil in the US. • The latest updates on the North American shale sector’s efforts to consolidate and restructure. • Shale producers proved they could pump out record volumes of oil by drilling horizontal wells and then fracturing them intensively. Now the industry needs to find buyers for many wells and acreage with hard-to-determine values. • The all-cash deal bucks a recent trend of international oil companies divesting of Canadian assets and adds 15,000 B/D of production to the buyer’s total. • A company built with a plan to quickly profit from the shale boom began a slow decline when oil prices sank to$50/bbl. Others could be following it to bankruptcy court this year.