BHP Makes Ultra Deepwater Gulf of Mexico Discovery

BHP Billiton has made an oil discovery at its second exploratory well on the Chinook prospect in the ultra-deepwater Gulf of Mexico. Drilled in water depths of approximately 8,830 feet, the well exceeded a total depth of 27,650 feet, encountering a gross hydrocarbon column of 620 feet with 260 feet of net oil pay.

The Chinook discovery is located more than 180 miles from the Louisiana coast in Walker Ridge Block 469, approximately 19 miles south of the previously announced Cascade discovery.

C.R. Luigs Steve Bell, President of Exploration and Business Development for BHP Billiton Petroleum, said today: "This is a very encouraging result on a large structure. Of course, it is early days and the result must be seen in perspective. While this is the deepest penetration to date on Chinook, we must have more appraisal data before we can be definitive about the scale of resource. Importantly, this strengthens our inventory of BHP Billiton-operated discoveries in the area. With Shenzi, Cascade, Neptune, and Vortex, we have a full appraisal program in place to evaluate and, if successful, create more value by ultimately commercialising these hydrocarbon accumulations."

Drilling on Chinook-3 began January 13, 2003, using the BHP Billiton operated drillship C.R. Luigs.

BHP Billiton owns a 40 percent interest and is the designated operator of Chinook with Petrobras owning a 30 percent interest, and Total and Amerada Hess each holding a 15 percent interest.

BHP Billiton holds interests in more than 340 blocks in the Gulf of Mexico, where the company is actively exploring for oil and gas. Deepwater projects sanctioned for development include the Atlantis and Mad Dog oil and gas fields, in addition to producing assets at Typhoon and Boris. In the past year the company has announced discoveries at Cascade, Shenzi, and Vortex, all of which are located in deep- and ultra-deepwater blocks.