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BHP Billiton wins two offshore oil exploration licences in Canada with US$625mln bid; AGM approves name change

The FTSE 100-listed miner said it successfully bid for a 100% participatory interest in blocks 8 and 12 of the offshore Orphan Basin in eastern Canada
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The initial exploration phase will see BHP invest US$140mln of capital expenditure up to the 2021 financial year

BHP Billiton plc (LON:BLT) has won two initial six-year offshore oil exploration licences in Canada after making a US$625mln aggregate bid.

In a statement, the FTSE 100-listed miner said it successfully bid for a 100% participatory interest in blocks 8 and 12 of the offshore Orphan Basin in eastern Canada.

READ: BHP Billiton cuts full-year copper production guidance after plant outages hurt volumes

The Canada Newfoundland & Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board is expected to issue the licences in December and they will become effective in January.

BHP Billiton said it has committed to a minimum US$157 million investment under the licence deal, with the US$625mln aggregate total to cover the drilling and seismic work required by the exploration work program outlined in the bid.

The initial exploration phase will see BHP invest US$140mln of capital expenditure up to the 2021 financial year, which is within its current exploration budget.

Steve Pastor, BHP Petroleum operations president said: "This frontier opportunity has large oil resource potential which we identified through our Global Petroleum Endowment Study in 2016 and is in a low-risk country, with competitive fiscal terms".

He added: "This opportunity delivers on our exploration focus in conventional petroleum and will leverage our global deep-water development and operational expertise”.

The Canadian move comes just four months after BHP stuck a US$10.5bn deal to sell its entire US oil and gas business to UK oil major BP PLC (LON:BP).

AGM in Adelaide

The licence news came on the day shareholders in the world’s biggest miner gathered in Adelaide, Australia for its annual general meeting, at which they overwhelmingly voted to shorten the company’s name to just BHP PLC.

In his statement to the meeting, the group’s chairman, Ken McKenzie said that 2018 financial year was a good year and it is on course to make further progress in 2019.

He also added; “We will maximise value for shareholders through making the right portfolio decisions and through consistent capital discipline.”

Meanwhile, the group’s chief executive, Andrew Mackenzie told shareholders that, despite the escalation in trade tensions globally, BHP’s business has not been significantly impacted.

He added: “While we are cautious in the near term, we remain positive about the long-term outlook.”

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