Why BPH Energy (ASX:BPH) shares are now in a trading halt

The BPH Energy Ltd (ASX:BPH) share price is in a trading halt after yet another dramatic move in share price today. Here are the details

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The BPH Energy Ltd (ASX: BPH) share price saga continues today after the company's shares were placed in a trading suspension, soon followed by a trading halt.

BPH shares started the trading day at 13 cents apiece and dipped to 12 cents soon after. But someone lit a rocket under the company around 1pm which saw the BPH share price explode up 73.6% all the way to 22 cents each by 2pm. But that's where it ended for BPH for the day.

At 2.56pm, the company released a market announcement that told investors trading would be suspended pending a further announcement. Then at 3.38pm, another update was released. This told investors that the ASX would suspend BPH shares from trading until at least Friday 19 February, or whenever this announcement is finally… announced.

Today's move is just the latest chapter in what has been a very dramatic saga to watch. Back on 21 January, BPH shares were only 5 cents each. But by 28 January, the company was asking as much as 33 cents a share, a 560% surge in around a week. The catalyst?

Well, it's a little unclear. But soon after this move (on 1 February), BPH Energy announced it proposed to use the drilling program in the Sydney Basin to investigate the potential for a carbon, capture and storage (CCS) project with partner, Bounty Oil & Gas NL (ASX: BUY). It also announced a capital raise program to help fund this endeavour. The shares were placed in a trading halt. After it completed the capital raise, BPH shares rose 31% on its return to market trading.

BPH on a rollercoaster

However, soon after this, the company fell sharply (around 21%) following comments from the New South Wales Deputy Premier John Barilaro. Mr Barilaro stated that he was not in favour of the PEP11 oil project that BPH is aiming to deploy its CCS project within, and the application should be rejected. Mr Barilaro also reportedly stated that he would "refuse further applications to extend the life of PEP11".

It's these comments that have likely sparked the surge in BPH shares we have seen today. This morning, before market open, BPH issued an announcement which clarified that its PEP11 project was subject to approval from both the NSW government and the Federal government.

The release points out that, under the relevant legislation, if the state and the Commonwealth disagree on a permit, it's the Commonwealth opinion that prevails. That essentially renders Mr Barilaro's comments impotent regarding PEP11.

Thus, investors who might have assumed that PEP11 would be cancelled (meaning BPH had raised capital for nothing) are possibly breathing easier today. Or at least they were before the trading halt. We shall have to wait until (probably) Friday to see what BPH has up its sleeves for investors next.

Motley Fool contributor Sebastian Bowen has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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