Announcing an operational review for the half year ended 31 December 2021, BHP gave the following update on its petroleum activities.
Discontinued operations - Petroleum
BHP announced on 22 November 2021 a binding share sale agreement for the proposed merger of BHP’s oil and gas portfolio with Woodside. Completion of the merger is expected in the June 2022 quarter subject to satisfaction of conditions precedent including approval by Woodside shareholders. The effective date of the merger is 1 July 2021. The half year financial results are being prepared on the basis that BHP Petroleum is a discontinued operation.
Total petroleum production increased by 5 per cent to 53 MMboe. No further guidance for the 2022 financial year will be provided for Petroleum given the business will be presented as a discontinued operation. However, until merger completion, we expect a production run rate broadly consistent with the original 2022 financial year production guidance of between 99 and 106 MMboe.
Crude oil, condensate and natural gas liquids production increased by 13 per cent to 25 MMboe, reflecting the additional 28 percent working interest acquired in Shenzi in November 2020, increased volumes from Ruby following first production in May 2021, and lower impact from weather events in the Gulf of Mexico, partially offset by natural field decline across the portfolio.
Natural gas production decreased by one per cent to 169 bcf, reflecting decreased production at North West Shelf and natural field decline across the portfolio, partially offset by increased volumes from Ruby and higher seasonal demand for gas at Bass Strait.
On 22 November 2021, we announced the approval of US$1.5 billion in capital expenditure for development of the Scarborough upstream project located in the North Carnarvon Basin, Western Australia. The approved capital expenditure represents BHP’s 26.5 per cent participating interest in Phase 1 of the upstream development. Final investment decisions have also been made by Woodside and the Scarborough Joint Venture.
In the December 2021 quarter, we completed the Ruby project in Trinidad & Tobago. The project was completed on schedule and within budget, and the Ruby field is currently producing both oil and gas.
The Mad Dog Phase 2 project’s semi-submersible platform, Argos, was towed to final location in the US Gulf of Mexico and moored. Offshore execution of construction and commissioning is in progress. First production from Mad Dog Phase 2 is expected from mid-calendar year 2022.
In December 2021, we reached a commercial milestone with the Trion project in Mexico with the filing of a Declaration of Commerciality with the National Hydrocarbons Commission. As announced in August 2021, we have moved Trion into the Front End Engineering Design (FEED) phase and work is progressing to plan. Studies are underway, focused on completion of the engineering, commercial arrangements and execution planning required to progress readiness for a Final Investment Decision from mid-calendar year 2022.
In Trinidad and Tobago, the Calypso appraisal drilling programme concluded on 20 December 2021. All wells encountered hydrocarbons. Bongos-3 confirmed volumes downdip of prior penetrations and Bongos-4 established volumes in a new segment. The well results are currently under evaluation and will be incorporated into the development plan.
In the central Gulf of Mexico, the Wasabi-1 well encountered a mechanical difficulty and was plugged and abandoned on 13 November 2021. Wasabi-2 (GC124-002) was spud on 17 November 2021 and drilling operations continue.
In Barbados, a 3D seismic survey was acquired in November 2021 over a portion of the Bimshire and Carlisle Bay blocks(6). Processed data is expected to be delivered in mid-calendar year 2022.
BHP has acquired interests in offshore exploration blocks in the Red Sea in Egypt. In December 2021, the Minister of Energy in Egypt signed the Deed of Assignment for Red Sea Block 1, finalising the assignment of a 45 per cent participating interest from Chevron to BHP. The effective date of the transfer is 12 September 2021. This follows a separate agreement with Shell in March 2021 for BHP to acquire a 30 and 25 per cent non-operated working interest in Egypt’s Red Sea Blocks 3 and 4, respectively. The effective date of BHP’s participation in Blocks 3 and 4 is pending final government approvals.
Petroleum exploration expenditure for the December 2021 half year was US$243 million, of which US$112 million was expensed. An approx. US$540 million exploration and appraisal program is being executed for the 2022 financial year.