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BHP Billiton To Develop Stybarrow Oil Field In Exmouth Sub-Basin

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Number 45/05

BHP Billiton today approved development of the Stybarrow oil field located in licence block number WA-255-P(2) in the Exmouth Sub-basin, approximately 65 kilometres from Exmouth, off the north west Australian coast.

At a water depth of approximately 825 metres it will be the deepest oil field development ever undertaken in Australia.

Project costs for Stybarrow are approximately US$600 million, of which BHP Billiton’s share is 50% (approximately US$300 million). This expenditure includes the cost of field development. There is also a 10 year minimum service agreement with a Floating Production Storage and Offtake (FPSO) provider.  

Discovered in February 2003, Stybarrow and the adjacent small oil rim of the Eskdale field have recoverable oil reserves estimated in a range of 60-90 million barrels of oil.

BHP Billiton Group President Energy, Philip Aiken, said the Stybarrow Development would expand BHP Billiton’s producing assets in Western Australia.

“Stybarrow represents the first opportunity for BHP Billiton to commercialise reserves in the Exmouth Sub-basin which is increasing in importance as an oil province in Australian waters. Our focus in the region is in on seeking opportunities where discoveries can be appraised and rapidly advanced into developments,” Mr Aiken said.

The Stybarrow project involves a subsea development and an FPSO facility which will be used to process, store and offload oil to export tankers. The vessel will be disconnectable, double-hulled and able to process approximately 80,000 barrels of liquids a day.

First production is expected during the first quarter of calendar year 2008. The estimated economic field life is 10 years.

The Stybarrow project has been subject to a comprehensive environmental impact assessment process that has involved extensive consultation with the local community and other key stakeholders.

BHP Billiton is the Operator (50%), with joint venture partner Woodside Energy Limited (50%).

For further information please contact:

Jane Belcher, Investor Relations
Tel: +61 3 9609 3952  Mobile: +61 417 031 653

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  Mobile: +44 7769 934 942

Ariane Gentil, Media Relations
Tel: +44 20 7802 4177  Mobile: +44 7881 518 715

United States
Tracey Whitehead, Investor & Media Relations
Tel: US +1 713 599 6100 or UK +44 20 7802 4031
Mobile: +44 7917 648 093

South Africa
Alison Gilbert, Investor Relations
Tel: SA +27 11 376 2121 or UK +44 20 7802 4183