Esso BHP to keep oil stakes

EXXONMOBIL and BHP have said they will keep their stakes in Bass Strait crude oil, just 20 months after putting them on the market.

The Gippsland Basin Joint Venture had offered offshore fields for sale including Perch, Dolphin, Seahorse, Tarwhine, Kingfish A, Kingfish B, West Kingfish, Fortescue, Halibut, Cobia, Mackerel, Blackback and Flounder, and associated platforms, which produce about 19,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day.

With declining oil reserves, the joint venturers said at the time that they were planning to divest much of their crude oil interests in Bass Strait, and focus on the substantial reserves of gas.

If a sale had gone ahead, the assets were expected to fetch several hundred million dollars. 

In June last year, when Esso made the announcement, oil prices were $44 per barrel. On Monday, they were hovering over more than $63 a barrel.

The joint venturers have operated oil fields in Bass Strait since the 1960s after they drilled the country’s first offshore well in 1965, reaching peak production of about 500,000 barrels a day in the 1980s.