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BHP Billiton's Neptune Project Reaches Full Oil Capacity

BHP Billiton announced today that its Neptune Tension Leg Platform (TLP) in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, which began production on 6 July, has five of six wells on line and has already ramped up the oil production to full design capacity of 50,000 barrels of oil per day. Natural gas production continues to ramp up.

"The achievement to reach full production capacity in just 15 days after start-up on the Company’s first operated, standalone deepwater production platform in the Gulf of Mexico is an outstanding achievement and we’re very pleased with how the facility and wells are performing," said J. Michael Yeager, Chief Executive Petroleum, BHP Billiton. "We have an excellent team of drilling, project and construction personnel, and it is a credit to the team and their excellent work that they were able to deliver a safe and effective production project."

The Neptune TLP was installed in 4,250 feet (1,300 metres) of water on Green Canyon Block 613. Field development includes six initial subsea wells tied back to the TLP. Further development wells are expected to be drilled after interpretation of new seismic data, which will be obtained in the latter half of 2008.

The Neptune field comprises 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 metres).

BHP Billiton is the operator of Neptune with a 35 per cent interest. Partners include Marathon Oil Corporation (30 per cent), Woodside Energy (USA) Inc. (20 per cent), and Maxus (U.S.) Exploration Company (15 per cent).

This document contains certain forward-looking statements relating to the business, financial performance and results of the Company and/or the industry in which it operates. Forward-looking statements concern future circumstances and results and other statements that are not historical facts, sometimes identified by the words "believes", "expects", "predicts", "intends", "projects", "plans", "estimates", "aims", "foresees", "anticipates", "targets", and similar expressions. The forward-looking statements, contained in this document, including assumptions, opinions and views of the Company or cited from third party sources are solely opinions and forecasts which are uncertain and subject to risks. A multitude of factors can cause actual events to differ significantly from any anticipated development. Neither the Company nor any of its subsidiaries nor any of its officers or employees guarantees that the assumptions underlying such forward-looking statements are free from errors nor does any of the foregoing accept any responsibility for the future accuracy of the opinions expressed in this document or the actual occurrence of the forecasted developments.