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BHP Billiton signs oil exploration deal with Barbados government

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – BHP Billiton has obtained oil exploration licenses from the government of Barbados.

The Australian mining, oil and gas giant says it plans to explore an area of 1,930 square miles (5,000 square kilometres) near the eastern Caribbean island. Officials said in a statement Thursday that they will focus on waters up to 6,560 feet (2,000 metres) deep located about 25 miles (40 kilometres) southeast of Barbados.

BHP Billiton says it has to await government approval of environmental plans before launching the first three-year phase, which includes a 2D seismic survey. A 3D seismic survey could follow along with drilling of exploration wells.

Officials say the government would receive royalty and tax payments if the exploration is successful.