Has BHP Billiton found a giant oil field offshore Australia?

  • Business & Finance

BHP Billiton believes it has identified a new potential major oil field in the Beagle sub-basin, offshore Dampier, Australia. According to the company the area could contain more than 1.6 billion barrels of oil. However, this belief will have to be tested by a drilling rig first.

The company’s president Tim Cutt told investors at the 2015 Barclays CEO Energy-Power conference in New York that BHP expected to start drilling the first prospect in 2018.

Speaking about the company’s focus on exploration, he provided an insight into the company’s Western Australia ambitions.

Namely, he said BHP had acquired a 25,000 square kilometers position in the Beagle sub-basin, where it had identified what he described as a largely untested tier 1 liquids play, on trend with the Barrow sub-basin.

The Beagle Sub-basin (Northern Carnarvon Basin) is a shallow-to medium-water depth basin located north of Dampier, off the West Australian coastline.

Cutt said BHP had licenced 10,000 square kilometers of multi-client 3D seismic survey, which had enabled it to identify four leads with a potential of over 1.6 billion barrels of oil.

He said: “Our mega-regional evaluation of Western Australia highlighted the potential for a largely untested Tier 1 liquids play in the Beagle sub-basin. The play is on trend with the Barrow sub-basin and we have identified four leads that each have the potential of over 400 Mmbbl recoverable.”


Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean


In addition, Cutt said that the company would remain an active player in the Gulf of Mexico and off Trinidad and Tobago.

He included these plays in the company’s drilling plans over the next three years.

“Over the next three years our program aims to test these plays with the drill bit,” he said. In his presentation he revealed the drilling would occur in the following order: Gulf of Mexico in 2016; Trinidad & Tobago in 2017; and Australia in 2018.

Cutt added: “In the Gulf of Mexico we are targeting the relatively immature Paleogene and Cretaceous plays with a focus on the western Gulf of Mexico. Over the past 12 months, we have acquired 50 blocks including the recent sale which is subject to customary approval.”

“In the Caribbean, we have built a leading ‘first mover’ acreage position totalling approximately 17,000 km2 across two plays (the Oligocene and Miocene) in Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados. This is four times the size of our entire Gulf of Mexico portfolio.”


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