orange gradient

50 Years in Bass Strait


This month BHP celebrates its 50th year as a petroleum producer, when first gas was received from Barracouta field in the Bass Strait, Australia.

The field was discovered in 1965 by BHP, who forged the exploration and development of Australia’s first world-class hydrocarbon province, together with operator Esso – a partnership that endures to this day.

The Bass Strait discovery was a watershed moment for BHP – transforming our company from a miner and steel maker into a serious player in the offshore oil and gas industry.  This discovery also underpinned the industrialisation of Australia and enabled energy self-sufficiency at a time of global supply shortage.

 “This is a milestone that flags the diversification and globalisation of our company,” said Petroleum President Geraldine Slattery.

“BHP remains the only major resources company with both mining and oil and gas in its portfolio – providing our company with a competitive advantage over our peers,” continued Geraldine.

“The edge we have is more than our resources – it's the technologies we have developed; the intellectual capital and wealth of experience in our team; the partnerships we have around the world; and the impacts we have had in our communities.”

Bass Strait has generated much of the cash flow that has underpinned the growth of our Petroleum business into what it is today, and it continues to be one of BHP’s most significant assets even 50 years after first production. To date, these fields have produced over eight trillion cubic feet of natural gas and four billion barrels of oil.

Our mature reserves are reaching end of life and future reserves are inherently more challenging and uncertain – deeper, tighter and higher in impurities. However we continue to see opportunities to develop these resources and so continue to invest significant resources to bring additional gas to market.

In December 2018, BHP approved the development of West Barracouta, one of the largest remaining undeveloped sweet gas reservoirs in Bass Strait. West Barracouta will offset decline from East Barracouta, the first reservoir discovered in the Gippsland Basin that has been in production for 50 years.