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BHP Billiton Announces Oil Discovery with Chinook E-Well in Deepwater Gulf of Mexico

Number 23/03

BHP Billiton today announced that it has made an oil discovery at its second exploratory well on the Chinook prospect in the ultra-deepwater Gulf of Mexico.  Drilled in water depths of approximately 8,830 feet (2,684 meters), the well exceeded a total depth of 27,650 feet (8,406 meters), encountering a gross hydrocarbon column of 620 feet (188 meters) with 260 feet (79 meters) of net oil pay.

The Chinook discovery is located more than 300 kilometers (180 miles) from the Louisiana coast in Walker Ridge Block 469, approximately 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of the previously announced Cascade discovery.  

Steve Bell, President of Exploration and Business Development for BHP Billiton Petroleum, said today:  “This is a very encouraging result on a large structure.  Of course, it is early days and the result must be seen in perspective.  While this is the deepest penetration to date on Chinook, we must have more appraisal data before we can be definitive about the scale of resource. Importantly, this strengthens our inventory of BHP Billiton-operated discoveries in the area.  With Shenzi, Cascade, Neptune, and Vortex, we have a full appraisal programme in place to evaluate and, if successful, create more value by ultimately commercialising these hydrocarbon accumulations.”

Drilling on Chinook-3 began January 13, 2003, using the BHP Billiton operated drillship C.R. Luigs.  BHP Billiton owns a 40 percent interest and is the designated operator of Chinook with Petrobras owning a 30 percent interest, and Total and Amerada Hess each holding a 15 percent interest.

BHP Billiton holds interests in more than 340 blocks in the Gulf of Mexico, where the company is actively exploring for oil and gas.  Deepwater projects sanctioned for development include the Atlantis and Mad Dog oil and gas fields, in addition to producing assets at Typhoon and Boris.  In the past year the company has announced discoveries at Cascade, Shenzi, and Vortex, all of which are located in deep- and ultra-deepwater blocks.

For further information contact:

Andrew Nairn, Investor Relations
Tel: +61 3 9609 3952  Mobile: +61 408 313 259

Tania Price, Media Relations
Tel: +61 3 9609 3815  Mobile: +61 419 152 780

United Kingdom
Mark Lidiard, Investor & Media Relations
Tel: +44 20 7802 4156

Ariane Gentil, Media Relations
Tel: +44 20 7802 4177

United States
Francis McAllister, Investor Relations
Tel: +1 713 961 8625  Mobile: +1 713 480 3699

South Africa
Michael Campbell, Investor & Media Relations
Tel: +27 11 376 3360  Mobile: +27 82 458 2587