BHP and Woodside Decide Against Merger

On Monday BHP announced a new growth strategy to increase oil production by 5.5 percent a year. This news came on the heels of the announcement that BHP and Woodisde have decided not to merge. BHP will count on its mix of metals commodities from within BHP Billton's infrastructure of mines and refineries to cushion any cyclical fall in oil prices.

Next year BHP plans to spend approximately US $250 million on exploration and appraisal drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, Australia, Trinidad and elsewhere stated Philip Aiken, president and chief executive officer of the petroleum division. Nearly 60 percent of the funds would be spent in the United States, little changed from 2001. The company has already completed the Typhoon development in the Gulf of Mexico and expects to approve other major projects in the region. BHP's production from the region would rise to between 80,000 and 160,000 barrels a day from around 15,000 barrels a day by 2006, Aiken said. Other acquisitions have not been ruled out, even though the talks with Woodside were dead. Their focus will be on expanding the exploration division.