BHP And ExxonMobil Begin Drilling Program in Gippsland Basin

BHP and ExxonMobil are making plans for a long-term drilling and exploration program in the Gippsland Basin offshore Australia. The program is expected to begin during the fourth quarter of 2003. The drilling program will include a mix of exploration, appraisal and development wells.

Esso Australia, ExxonMobil's Australian subsidiary and BHP Billiton are equal partners in the Gippsland Basin joint venture which meets over 95% of Victoria State's gas demand. A 3D seismic survey covering 3,900 kilometers was recently completed. The results from this survey will be used to look for new exploration and drilling targets. ExxonMobil said they do not expect to find any big discoveries like Kingfish, Snapper or Barracouta, however, they are confident that there are some mid-size discoveries to be made. Since there is already an existing infrastructure, small finds can be brought into production relatively quickly and economically.