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BHP Billiton approves 'deepest oil field ever'

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BHP Billiton has approved development of the Stybarrow oil field located 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 $US600 million, of which BHP Billiton's share is 50%. 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 sub-sea 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%).

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