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Repairs Underway At BHP Billiton's Neptune Facility In The Gulf Of Mexico

BHP Billiton’s Neptune facility in the Gulf of Mexico is currently undergoing remediation to reinforce certain structural components in the hull’s pontoons.

After a detailed and thorough analysis by the engineering contractor which designed and built the hull, it has been determined that part of the support structure inside the pontoons requires additional reinforcement. This has been verified by an independent analysis.

Repairs are already underway to remediate the structure as required to meet the original design intent. The Company is working to bring the facility on stream by the end of the second quarter 2008, subject to regulatory approval.

The Neptune TLP, which is located approximately 120 miles off the Louisiana coastline was scheduled to start production at the end of March, however, start up was deferred after the problem was identified during a routine inspection.

Project development costs of the Neptune project are not expected to increase significantly in light of the warranty obligations of the engineering contractor.

BHP Billiton is the designated operator of the field with a 35 per cent interest. Joint venture partners include Marathon Oil Company (30 per cent), Woodside Energy (USA) Inc. (20 per cent), a subsidiary of Woodside Petroleum Ltd., and Maxus (U.S.) Exploration Company (15 per cent).

Neptune is a single-column TLP and was installed in 4,250 feet (1,300 meters) of water on Green Canyon Block 613. The Neptune field comprises of five blocks: Atwater Valley 573, 574, 575, 617 and 618 where water depths range from 4,200 to 6,500 feet (1,275 to 2,000 meters).