Project halted: Judge halts construction on new huge COP project in Alaska. Link here.
A weekend court ruling has temporarily blocked winter construction at a huge ConocoPhillips oil project on Alaska’s North Slope.
U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason issued an order Saturday barring ConocoPhillips from starting planned gravel mining and gravel-road construction at its Willow project. With an estimated 590 million barrels of oil and the potential to produce 160,000 barrels per day, Willow would be the westernmost operating oil field in Arctic Alaska. First oil is planned as early as 2024, according to ConocoPhillips.
Gleason’s injunction came in response to an environmental lawsuit claiming the Trump administration’s Willow approval failed to properly consider wildlife and climate-change impacts. The judge last week rejected environmentalists’ request for a more sweeping injunction. Her new order halts gravel-related work until at least Feb. 20, giving the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals time to weigh in.
But, for oil companies in general, good news? Hedge funds think so.
The view is a reversal for hedge funds, which shorted the oil sector in the lead-up to global shutdowns, landing energy focused hedge funds gains of 26.8% in 2020, according to data from eVestment. By virtue of their fast-moving strategies, hedge funds are quick to spot new trends.
Global oil benchmark Brent has jumped 59% since early November when news of successful vaccines emerged, after COVID-19 travel curbs and lockdowns last year hammered fuel demand and collapsed oil prices. Last week it hit pre-pandemic levels close to $60 a barrel.
U.S. crude has climbed 54% to around $57 per barrel during the same period.
“By the summer, the vaccine should be widely provided and just in time for summer travel and I think things are going to go gangbusters,” said David D. Tawil, co-founder at New York-based event-driven hedge fund, Maglan Capital, and interim CEO of Centaurus Energy.