Energy giant BHP has revealed plans to sell its 50 per cent stake in the Bass Strait oil and gas venture to enable focusing on higher-value petroleum assets. Namely, the small company bought an ageingfield in 2016 which came with $156 million in abandonment liabilities, but thenwent into voluntary administration last year. The decommissioning costs for theBass Strait assets are estimated to be many times higher than that. It is worth noting that the BassStrait oil and gas fields off Australia’s southeastern coast have produced morethan 4 billion barrels of crude oil and about 8 trillion cubic feet of gas overthe past 50 years and now face a steep decline. This, according to Kavonic, could drastically limit the pool of buyers for Bass Strait interests. Regulators will most likely watch thesale very closely because of the case of the North Oil & Gas Australia(NOGA) company. According to Reuters, which quoted analystopinions, BHP might be able to sell its stake before ExxonMobil since its interestmight attract more bidders as it is not the operator of the field. Credit Suisse analyst Saul Kavonic told Reuters that there will be heightened regulatory scrutiny over any potential buy due to the high abandonment costs and anyone’s ability to meet them. The Bass Strait joint venture is co-owned and operated by ExxonMobil. The Bass Strait is kind of unwanted at the moment as ExxonMobil also put up its 50 per cent stake for sale in September 2019. It is estimated that the stake could fetch up to $3 billion. Another thing related to the sale isthe risk regarding abandonment liabilities which are deemed as significant. BHP said on Tuesday in its financial resultsstatement that the company was continuing to optimize its petroleum portfoliothrough the exit of later life assets, including an intended exit from the BassStrait. At $1.1 billion, the Bass Strait wasthe biggest single contributor to BHP’s petroleum revenue in the year to June2020, but that is a drop from a $1.6 billion annual contribution in 2010.