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BHP Billiton today announced first oil production from its operated Stybarrow project offshore north west Australia. The Stybarrow project involves a nine well subsea development and a Floating Production Storage and Offtake (FPSO) facility, the Stybarrow Venture with capacity of approximately 80,000 barrels of oil a day.

BHP Billiton's J. Michael Yeager, Chief Executive Petroleum, said the development was another key milestone this year in the growth of the Company’s petroleum business and expansion of Petroleum’s operated projects.

"First oil was scheduled for early 2008, however we’re pleased that we were able to deliver Australia’s deepest offshore development to date ahead of schedule.

"This achievement reflects a solid work plan that was well executed. We have an experienced project team of BHP Billiton and major contractors and congratulate them on this fine work. We expect this high level of performance to continue into our production phase."

At a water depth of approximately 825 metres, the development is located in production licence block number WA-32-L in the Exmouth Sub-basin, approximately 65 kilometres from Exmouth.

Project costs for Stybarrow are approximately US$760 million, of which BHP Billiton’s share is 50% (approximately US$380 million).

First oil for the Stybarrow Venture, a disconnectable, double-hulled vessel, comes from the Eskdale field, which is a single well tie back to the adjacent large Stybarrow field followed by production from Stybarrow’s wells. Full ramp-up and production is expected to take several months.

Discovered in February 2003, the Stybarrow and Eskdale fields have estimated recoverable oil reserves of 60-90 million barrels.

The estimated economic field life is 10 years.

The joint venture partners are BHP Billiton (50% and Operator) and Woodside Energy Limited (50%).

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