(EnergyAsia, December 13 2012, Thursday) — Australian national resources giant BHP Billiton Ltd said it has agreed to a US$1.63-billion cash sale of its stakes in the proposed Browse liquefied natural gas project (LNG) in Australia to PetroChina Co.

According to BHP, China’s largest listed oil producer by market value will take over its 8.33% in the East Browse joint venture and a 20% stake in West Browse, both located in West Australia state operated by Woodside Petroleum. Completion of the proposed purchase is expected in the first half of 2013 if it clears regulatory approval and Browse’s other shareholders, Shell, BP and Japan Australia LNG (MIMI Browse) Pty Ltd, do not match PetroChina’s offer.

According to Perth-based, Browse Basin hold 15.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves.

BHP’s petroleum chief, J. Michael Yeager, said:

“This is an excellent opportunity for both companies. PetroChina has acquired an interest in a world class gas resource and BHP Billiton has exited a non-strategic asset.”

Perth-based Woodside in February boosted estimates for the natural gas resources in Australia’s Browse Basin by 17 percent to 15.5 trillion cubic feet.