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BHP Billiton Petroleum Acquires Exploration Rights Onshore Colombia

BHP Billiton Petroleum announced today that it has acquired exploration rights to an onshore block of approximately 7,750,000 acres in the Llanos Basin, Colombia.  The Company signed a Technical Evaluation Agreement with the Agencia Nacional de Hidrocarburos (ANH) to explore block CPE-5.

"We are extremely pleased with this result," said Steve O’Rourke, President Exploration, BHP Billiton Petroleum.  "The Colombian government ran a very successful bid round and the Agencia Nacional de Hidrocarburos recognized that this type of frontier exploration requires access to large acreage tracts.  We look forward to extending the known limits of the highly prolific Llanos basin over the next three years."

BHP Billiton holds a 71.4 per cent interest in the block and is the operator.  SK Energy, the petroleum exploration and production affiliate of South Korea’s third largest conglomerate, holds the remaining 28.6 per cent.  The Technical Evaluation Agreement is based on an exploration program to be undertaken by the Company over a three year period.  It includes seismic acquisition and processing and exploration drilling.

BHP Billiton is currently exploring two offshore blocks, Fuerte Norte and Fuerte Sur, in Colombia’s Caribbean Sector. The Company holds a 75 per cent interest in each block and is the operator.  BHP Billiton has had a long-standing relationship with the resources industry in Colombia, producing energy coal from the Cerrejon mine and nickel from Cerro Matoso S.A.

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.