The Wind in the Willow

The Willow project in Alaska is an ongoing oil development in the remote North Slope of Alaska operated by ConocoPhillips. The Biden Administration approved the controversial project. Yes, you read that correctly. I am as shocked as you are. The wind must have been blowing through the willows. Sorry I could not resist as the book, The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame was one of my favorite books growing up. Mr. Toad becomes obsessed with motorcars similar to the Biden Administration obsessing over the anti-oil and gas plan, or green plan.

With all the negative press and protests, a survey found that 54% of Republicans and 48% of Democrats support the project. Support rises to 60% among baby boomers compared to the Generation Z at 28%. Positive economic impact was the main reason for the support.

A lawsuit was filed in federal court by two environmentalist organizations and a Native American community to stop the project; however, a federal judge dismissed the suit. District Judge Sharon L Gleason cited inconsistencies when arguing that the project will do irreparable harm (roads and a gravel mine) and the broader public interest as a basis for her decision.

The project could deliver 160,000 bpd of crude with estimated reserves of between 400 and 700 million barrels. The lifetime of the project was estimated at up to 30 years. These calculations were done by the BLM in 2020 when the company was awarded the $8 billion project by the Trump Administration. Peak production for the project could be above 180,000 bpd.

As another election year is approaching, the Biden Administration is now trying to mend fences with the environmentalist groups, young voters and even some within the Democrat party that opposed the project. The oil and gas leases for the project were granted years ago and the administration felt that non-approval would most likely be hard to defend in court.  The Biden administration was however able to get ConocoPhillips to reduce the size of the project. The environmentalists have stated Biden needs them in 2024 and they would like the President to invoke the Defense Production Act to declare a climate emergency. This would enable him to speed up production for carbon energy technology; however, high energy prices and climate change are in competition with each other. Concern is growing that the current administration is moving further towards the center. What a concept?

Needless to say, this is a blow to the environmentalists, but a BIG win for the oil and gas industry.

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