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BHP Billiton has expanded its exploration portfolio with the acquisition of an offshore block in the recent bid round held in Brazil.  At the fourth annual licensing round for oil exploration, development and production blocks held by Brazil's National Petroleum Agency (ANP) on June 19-20, 2002, BHP Billiton acquired Block BM-C-24 for 13.5 million Reals, or approximately US$5 million.

BM-C-24 is an exploration block that comprises an area of 603 square kilometers in the Campos Basin, with water depths ranging from 100 to 1,500 meters.  The exploration phase of the contract includes three periods lasting a total of eight years, with an initial work program over the first three years and optional work programs if the contract is continued after the third and the sixth years.

BHP Billiton is the designated operator and has a 100 percent interest in Block BM-C-24. Final review and ratification of the award by ANP and execution of a concession agreement covering the block are expected within 90 days.

"We are pleased to have a winning bid in this latest round for acreage off the coast of Brazil," explained Rob Pascoe, team leader for new ventures-western hemisphere.  "We have been interested in establishing a position offshore southeast Brazil for several years, and this block represents a good entry point that can be built on as other quality opportunities become available.  Also, having operatorship and owning a 100 percent interest in the block provides us with additional commercial opportunities that can help us create value from this new asset and support the long-term growth goals of BHP Billiton’s petroleum business."

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