BHP Billiton boosts offshore exploration budget

BHP Billiton, the Australian conglomerate, will invest $2.7 billion in petroleum activities in 2016. 

Around a half of the amount, $1.4 billion, will be spent on “high-return” infill drilling opportunities in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and life extension projects at Bass Strait and North West Shelf in Australia. The remaining amount would be spent on the company’s U.S. onshore operations.

The company’s exploration program is focused in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean and the Beagle subbasin off the coast of Western Australia where the company is pursuing Tier 1 oil plays.

BHP Billiton said that petroleum exploration expenditure for the nine months ended March 2016 was $390 million. However, the company is boosting its exploration budget, with $640 million exploration program now planned for the 2016 financial year.

The planned program will fund “additional access and testing of our future growth opportunities,” BHP Billiton said in its operations update on Wednesday.

“We have the potential to significantly grow the value of our company,” CEO Andrew Mackenzie said on Wednesday. “We have a pipeline of projects in copper and oil that allow us to bring high-margin volumes to market when the time is right. And as others cut back on exploration, our investment will go further and help create new options for the future.”

The Australian company operates two fields in the Gulf of Mexico Shenzi and Neptune, and holds non-operating interests in three other fields. The company in March drilled Shenzi North-ST3 offshore well, in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, using the Deepwater Invictus drillship.

According to its operational update, the well encountered hydrocarbons, and was plugged and abandoned. BHP did not reveal further details on the amount or the kind of hydrocarbons encountered. The well was targeting oil.

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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