3 May 2002
Number: 27/02


BHP Billiton today announced it had approved up to US$355 million to
progress the development of the Atlantis oil and gas field in the Gulf
of Mexico (GoM).  BHP Billiton holds a 44 per cent equity interest in the
field.  BP is the operator of the field and holds the remaining 56 per cent
interest.  Studies conducted by the operator estimate the Atlantis field's
gross proven and probable reserves to be 575 million barrels of oil
equivalent (mmboe) (BHP Billiton share 222 mmboe after royalties of 12.5%),
making it the third largest field in the Gulf of Mexico deepwater.

This capital commitment will allow completion of front-end engineering and
design work (FEED), progression into detailed engineering and design,
purchase of long-lead items and most major equipment and placing major
facility fabrication contracts. Full project approval is expected later
this year on completion of the final capital cost estimate and project
schedule, which will be derived from the FEED studies. The gross capital
cost is expected to be in excess of US$2 billion (BHP Billiton share
approximately US$1 billion).

This commitment is a major step in the project development and aligns
with the operator's forward project implementation schedule and funding
requirements. The project has been evaluated and approved through the
BHP Billiton internal capital assessment, technical and commercial
evaluation and risk management processes. It represents a robust,
major deepwater development, with significant value potential for
BHP Billiton.

Located in water depths of 4400 - 7100 feet, Atlantis will be developed
using a moored semi-submersible production facility with a gross design
capacity of around 150,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd) and 180 million
standard cubic feet of gas per day (mmscfd).  The field will also have
a separate semi-submersible drilling unit dedicated to development.

The Atlantis field is located in the Atwater Foldbelt, 125 miles south of
New Orleans in the vicinity of Green Canyon Block 743, comprising seven
blocks in the area.  Oil and gas produced at Atlantis will be transported
to a platform at Ship Shoal Block 332 by the Caesar and Cleopatra
pipelines, in which earlier this year BHP Billiton acquired a 25 per cent
and 22 per cent interest, respectively.  From there, oil and gas can be
transported to markets in Texas and Louisiana.

President and CEO of BHP Billiton Petroleum Philip Aiken said:
"The commitment to the Atlantis development marks another landmark in the
Group's focused deepwater exploration strategy, which continues to deliver
value to the company and its shareholders. The completion of the
design work later this year and the procurement of long lead time items
will maintain our first production target of calendar 2005.

"The reserves estimate indicates that this is a major oil field development,
the third largest deepwater field in the Gulf. It is the second that
BHP Billiton will commercialise in the Atwater Foldbelt, following the
development decision on Mad Dog earlier this year," Mr Aiken said. "When
these two developments come on-stream they should provide BHP Billiton
with working interest production of approximately 90, 000 barrels of oil
per day and 90 mmcfd of gas. There is also additional upside potential
within the Atlantis field and other nearfield opportunities."

The Atlantis field was discovered in September 1998 in 4,400 feet of water
with the Atlantis-1 well drilled in Green Canyon Block 699. Further appraisal
wells were drilled in 3Q 2000 (Atlantis 2 and sidetrack) and 3Q 2001
(Atlantis 3 and sidetrack) The accumulation encompasses seven blocks in the
southeast portion of the Green Canyon Protraction area.

Further information can be found on our
Internet site: http://www.bhpbilliton.com.

Dr Robert Porter, Investor Relations
Tel:    +61 3 9609 3540
Mobile: +61 419 587 456

Mandy Frostick, Media Relations
Tel:    +61 3 9609 4157
Mobile: +61 419 546 245

United States
Francis McAllister, Investor Relations
Tel:    +1 713 961 8625
Mobile: +1 713 480 3699

United Kingdom/South Africa
Mark Lidiard, Investor & Media Relations
Tel:    +44 20 7747 3956

Ariane Gentil, Manager Communications
Tel:    +44 20 7747 3977
Mobile: +44 7881 518 715

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