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First Oil & Gas from the Shenzi Field in Deepwater Gulf of Mexico

BHP Billiton announced today that first oil and natural gas production has commenced from the Shenzi development in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. The tension leg platform (TLP) has a nominal capacity of 100,000 barrels of oil per day and 50 million cubic feet per day of natural gas, on a 100 percent basis.

The Shenzi facility is located approximately 120 miles (195 kilometres) off the Louisiana coastline and is installed in approximately 4,300 feet (1,300 metres) of water on Green Canyon Block 653, making it the second deepest TLP in the world.

J. Michael Yeager, Chief Executive, BHP Billiton Petroleum, said the development came on-stream ahead of schedule and within budget and is another important milestone in the expansion of Petroleum's operated projects.

"Shenzi joins the already producing Neptune field as the second BHP Billiton operated, standalone, deepwater facility in the Gulf of Mexico. Together with Genghis Khan, Atlantis and Mad Dog, the company has realised a significant increase in production in the region after considerable investment and technical focus."

"This achievement reflects a well executed work plan in a complex deepwater environment. This is a credit to the project team whose strong performance has allowed the company to safely deliver a world-class project and add to a growing Petroleum asset portfolio," added Mr. Yeager.

The Shenzi field comprises four blocks: Green Canyon 609, 610, 653 and 654. Initial field development includes seven subsea wells tied back to the TLP, with full field development expected to expand to a total of 15 producing wells and future water injection wells. Crude oil is transported via a 20-inch diameter pipeline connecting to Ship Shoal 332 B, while natural gas will be exported via the Cleopatra pipeline (where BHP Billiton has a 22 percent equity share).

BHP Billiton is the operator with 44 percent equity. Joint interest participants are Hess Corporation and Repsol, each with a 28 percent equity.