SYDNEY BHP Billiton has halted work at some construction sites at its operations in the Eagle Ford shale in the United States as it investigates the death of a contractor at the site, it said on Tuesday. Oil production and drilling were not affected.
A contractor was fatally injured on Monday while working at a site in Karnes County, the company said. Karnes County is about 200 miles west of Houston.
"Operations at the site were immediately stopped and a full investigation is under way," BHP said, without providing further details.
The death of the worker, who was employed by oilfield construction company Jet Maintenance Inc, is under investigation, BHP Billiton said.
Jet Maintenance declined comment on Tuesday.
A BHP Billiton spokeswoman in Melbourne, Australia, where BHP is headquartered, said it was too early to determine the duration of the investigation.
Eagle Ford is the company's single largest liquids-producing field, BHP said on April 17.
The company's oil and gas arm, Houston-based BHP Billiton Petroleum, is focusing the bulk of its $4 billion U.S. onshore spending on Eagle Ford and Permian Basin operations in Texas.
A rise in liquids output from Eagle Ford has helped offset a downturn in BHP's offshore units, keeping the petroleum division on track to meet its fiscal 2013 production forecast of 240 million barrels of oil equivalent.
At Eagle Ford, 38 additional wells came into production in the March quarter.
Analysts are expecting that an additional 100 wells will start to flow this quarter.
(Reporting by James Regan; additional reporting by Kristen Hays in Houston; Editing by Ed Davies, Toni Reinhold)