OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma City-based oil and natural gas producer has emerged from bankruptcy protection.

SandRidge Energy Inc. was released from the protection Tuesday, shedding $3.7 billion of debt in its reorganization, The Oklahoman reported (http://bit.ly/2dRF8eG ).

SandRidge filed for bankruptcy protection in May, citing high debt and low commodity prices. A judge approved the negotiated reorganization plan last month.

Under the plan, the $3.7 billion in debt was converted to equity in the reorganized company.

The company now has zero net debt and more than $500 million in liquidity. The elimination of the company’s debt saves it about $300 million a year in interest payments.

The newly reorganized company’s common stock began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

“We need now to get back in front of investors and help them understand the story, what we’re doing as a company and why,” CEO James Bennett said. “We have to prove to shareholders and stakeholders that we can execute from here.”

SandRidge has about 630 employees, including 350 at its Oklahoma City headquarters. This is a decrease from 1,157 companywide and 548 in Oklahoma City at the end of 2015.

SandRidge controls about 650,000 acres of northwestern Oklahoma’s Mississippi Lime rock formation and about 136,000 acres in Colorado’s Niobrara Shale formation. The company has drilled more than 1,600 horizontal wells in the area since 2010, however it recently halted the drilling program while it studies data from the completed wells.

“We anticipate picking a rig back up in early 2017 and expect to run all or part of 2017 to continue to test and delineate and develop that asset,” Bennett said.

Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com