ExxonMobil, BHP consider Bass Strait field sales

ExxonMobil Corp. and BHP Billiton Ltd. are considering selling some depleting oil and natural gas fields in Australia, including Kingfish oil field in Bass Strait.

Kingfish, discovered in the mid-1960s, is the largest oil field ever discovered in Australia.

Overall the two companies, which have been in 50-50 partnership in the Gippsland basin since 1960, are looking at putting 13 fields, licences, and associated systems in the region on the market. In addition to Kingfish, the fields to be sold include Blackback, Cobia, Dolphin, Flounder, Fortescue, Halibut, Mackerel, Perch, Seahorse, and Tarwhine.

Bass Strait fields have produced more than 4 billion bbl of oil and 8 tcf of gas since production began in 1965. The region was Australia’s mainstay in oil production during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, but is now mainly a gas producer.

The sale assets are reportedly still worth billions of dollars.

ExxonMobil and BHP will retain ownership of the remaining offshore fields and the onshore facilities at Longford. These include the new $4.5-billion (Aus.) Kipper-Tuna-Turrum development, which has an estimated 1.6 bcf of gas and 140 million bbl of liquids.

There is no indication of any timeframe set for the proposed sale.

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