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BHP Billiton announced today the drilling of a successful appraisal well in the northern area of the Mad Dog field in the US Gulf of Mexico. The well results confirm that hydrocarbons initially in place in the Mad Dog field area are now estimated to be up to four billion barrels of oil equivalent.

BHP Billiton drilled the well on behalf of the unit operator, BP. The well is located on Gulf of Mexico Green Canyon block 738 approximately 140 miles (225 kilometres) south of Grand Isle, LA., in about 4,500 feet (1,371 metres) of water. The well encountered about 166 net feet (50 metres) of hydrocarbons in the objective Miocene hydrocarbon-bearing sands within a discovered oil column of more than 300 feet (91 metres).

BHP Billiton Petroleum Chief Executive, J. Michael Yeager, said: “The additional hydrocarbon resources north of the main field establish Mad Dog as a giant field. We will be working with BP to evaluate development options to quickly bring these resources to market."

BHP Billiton has a 23.9 per cent interest in the Mad Dog field. Chevron has a 15.6 per cent interest and BP has a 60.5 per cent working interest.

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