Duo fail to find Bass buyer

The Bass Strait was one of the largest oil producers in the country.

The Bass Strait was one of the largest oil producers in the country.

ExxonMobil and BHP have cancelled the sale of their Bass Strait fields and platforms after failing to find a buyer for the ageing assets.

ExxonMobil and BHP have run the 50:50 Gippsland Basin Joint Venture (JV) since the 1960s, which was one of the world’s biggest producers of oil at its 500,000 bbl/d peak in the 1980s.

Exxon announced in 2016 that it was looking to offload the assets; but with no one interested, it will hold on to them.

“Esso and BHP have concluded a marketing process of select offshore oil assets,” said an Exxon spokesperson.

“After consideration of a range of options, we have currently decided to retain ownership and operation of these assets.”

While there is still plenty of oil in the fields, their lower returns are making it less profitable to keep the ageing infrastructure running.

Analyst Wood Mackenzie estimates that decomminising of the JV’s assets in the Bass Strait could cost anywhere from US$500 million (AU$638 million) to US$1 billion (AU$1.3 billion).

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