SYDNEY Dec 12 BHP Billiton said on
Wednesday it is selling its interest in the troubled Browse
liquefied natural gas project to PetroChina International
Investment (Australia) Pty Ltd for $1.63 billion.
Browse LNG has been plagued by controversy over its proposed
location at James Price Point on the northwestern coast of
Australia, which has been opposed by some project partners,
environmentalists and Aboriginal landowners.
BHP is the second joint venture partner to exit the $30
billion project after Chevron agreed an asset swap deal in
August that increased the stake held by Royal Dutch Shell Plc
The other partners are operator and majority shareholder
Woodside Petroleum, BP, Japan's Mitsui & Co
and Mitsubishi Corp.
Woodside is scheduled to make a decision on whether to go
forward with the James Price Point location by mid-2013.
The Browse Joint Venture participants hold a right to match
the offer from PetroChina.
BHP said the deal is subject to regulatory approval and is
expected to be completed in the first half of next year.
"This is an excellent opportunity for both companies,"
BHP's petroleum division chief Michael Yeager said in a
statement. "PetroChina has acquired an interest in a world class
gas resource and BHP Billiton has exited a non-strategic asset."
Australia, which is expected to surpass Qatar as the top LNG
exporter by the end of the decade, has more than $170 billion
worth of LNG export projects under construction.