Houston-based Cobalt International Energy Inc., which launched in 2005 and has since built an inventory of deepwater prospects in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), has filed for voluntary bankruptcy protection and plans to sell off some of its portfolio.

Cobalt said it filed for Chapter 11 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas. Business is to continue, with cash on hand adequate to fund operations during the restructuring, management said.

“Cobalt has been engaged in constructive discussions with its first lien noteholders, second lien noteholders, unsecured noteholders and their respective advisors regarding the need for, sponsorship of, and terms of a restructuring and proposed sale of Cobalt’s assets,” management said. “Cobalt plans to utilize the Chapter 11 cases to continue and complete these discussions with key stakeholders and evaluate other value-maximizing opportunities to facilitate an expedited restructuring that will deliver maximum value to its stakeholders.”

Cobalt filed a variety of “first-day” motions with the court seeking, among other things, authority to use the cash collateral, maintain its existing cash management system and other customary relief. When granted, such motions would assure Cobalt’s ability to maintain business-as-usual operations throughout the restructuring process.

The independent exploration and production company works in the deepwater GOM and offshore West Africa. It was formed 12 years ago by former Unocal Corp. and BP plc executives, backed with $500 million in financing by Carlyle/Riverstone and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners.

An active bidder in GOM lease sales, one of Cobalt’s biggest discoveries came in 2012, at the North Platte prospect on Garden Banks Block 959, where it partners with Total E&P USA Inc. Total and Cobalt launched a GOM alliance in 2009.