Despite asset sales, Australia's BHP Billiton eyes Trinidad and Tobago expansion

By Nicel Jane Avellana

Dec 10, 2013 11:47 PM EST

A Bloomberg report said BHP Billiton Ltd is looking at the possibility of expanding in Trinidad and Tobago even as it continued to exit some assets to simplify its portfolio. The largest oil and gas producer in Australia, BHP Billiton Ltd is looking to the Caribbean nation as a possible main production region together with US and Australia.

BHP's Petroleum and Potash unit President Tim Cutt told reporters that the company is excisted about Trinidad. He added, "It's a deep-water play we've been watching for some time, but the fiscal terms weren't very consistent with our ability to make money. The terms now are satisfactory." Cutt also revealed that the oil and gas unit intends to drill its first well in the Caribbean nation in three years.

Bloomberg reported that even as the company focuses its investments in the US and Australia, BHP has also flagged more asset sales to streamline its energy portfolio. Last year, BHP agreed to exit its stake in Woodside Petroleum's Browse LNG venture located in Western Australia to PetroChina Co. The firm also said it intends to divest its asset in Liverpool Bay in the UK. Cutt also said that Pakistan and Algeria have "limited running room."

Cutt said in a statement, "Our disciplined divestment process, which led to the $1.7 billion sale of our interests in Browse, will continue to create substantial value for shareholders."

BHP is also focusing on its liquefied natural gas. It is looking at the Permian Basin in the US, seeking to develop 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day. According to the company, evaluating the Permian Basin will result to a depreciation charge of USD 600 million next year. In October, BHP had said that it would concentrate on areas in the Permian Basin that it is most interested in and sell some parts, the report added.

Cutt said, "We do have good interest in the assets. We're confident we will move those assets at the right time, but only if we get the right kind of offer."

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