BHP Billiton delivered a solid performance in the first quarter of the 2009 financial year. This was achieved within a challenging supply environment characterized by unexpected disruptions, including the hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.
Consistent with the outlook statement given at the Company's interim and preliminary results, China has not been immune to the global slowdown. Macroeconomic indicators show that Chinese growth has softened during the quarter, albeit from very high levels. BHP expects volatility and uncertainty to continue in the short term. Notwithstanding this short term uncertainty, the Company remains confident that the ongoing industrialization and urbanization of China and other developing economies will continue to drive strong longer term demand for BHP's products.
The Company's uniquely diversified portfolio of low cost and high quality assets places it at a competitive advantage in the current uncertain environment and the Company is well positioned to capitalize as markets recover. BHP's strong cash flow and balance sheet allows it to re-invest throughout the cycle, in its growth projects that are focused on lower risk brownfield expansions in high margin commodities.
Total Petroleum Products
Production was 15% higher than the September 2007 quarter driven by the ramp up of new projects delivered in the 2008 financial year. In addition two new projects commenced during the quarter, Neptune (USA) and North West Shelf Train 5 (Australia), contributing additional volumes. Two million barrels of oil equivalent was delayed due to the impact of two hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.
As announced by the operator, the Mad Dog (USA) drilling rig was lost as a result of Hurricane Ike. The facility was shut down for part of the September 2008 quarter. It is currently anticipated that production will resume in the next quarter. The operator and other owners are currently examining options to permanently address the rig loss at Mad Dog.
Crude Oil, Condensate, and Natural Gas Liquids
Production was 31% higher than the September 2007 quarter due to significant growth in high margin crude production from new projects. This was achieved despite the impact of two hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.
Production was slightly lower than the previous quarter, mainly due to the impact of hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and unplanned interruptions at Bruce (UK).
Production was in line with the September 2007 quarterly production record and the
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