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BHP Billiton oil and gas exploration summary

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Report summary

BHP Billiton (BHP) reacted swiftly to the collapse in oil price by increasing capital efficiency accelerating asset high grading and making cuts across the business. It is using the down cycle to address weaknesses in its portfolio in particular a lack of greenfield deepwater and international development opportunities. Strategic priorities include delivering on a bold counter cyclical exploration strategy. BHP has two heartland conventional E&P regions the NW Shelf of Australia and the deepwater US Gulf of Mexico. A third core region is now US unconventionals with substantial positions in the Haynesville Eagle Ford and Permian Basin plays. BHP's conventional exploration has underperformed but the company is committed to turning this around securing new acreage and rigs and maintaining spend. This counter cyclical acceleration of its drilling programme contrasts with the average fall of 48% in exploration spend between 2014 and 2016 for the other companies in our coverage.

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Table of contents

  • Executive summary
  • Strategy
  • Investment and costs
  • Exploration
  • Reserves and resources
  • Production
  • Valuation

Tables and charts

This report includes 24 images and tables including:


  • Basins drilled and all conventional & organic unconventional discoveries 2006-2015
  • Exploration & appraisal spend and reinvestment
  • Exploration & appraisal spend by water depth
  • Exploration & appraisal spend by basin maturity
  • Discovery costs by water depth
  • Production from new field discoveries and organic unconventionals, and as a proportion of all future production
  • Net active exploration acreage by water depth
  • Net active exploration acreage by country
  • Exploration wells drilled and spend per well
  • Exploration success rates
  • Volumes discovered by year
  • Volumes discovered by water depth
  • Volumes discovered by country
  • Volumes discovered by basin
  • Full cycle value creation by year, with uncons
  • Exploration returns by year, with uncons
  • Costs and development value by reserve category
  • Exploration returns by water depth


  • Ten year performance summary
  • Full-cycle economics
  • SWOT grid
  • Gross conventional exploration & appraisal wells by basin and sector
  • Discoveries (2006 to 2015)
  • Key organic unconventional plays

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