BHP closes $1.63bn stake sale in Aussie gas venture to PetroChina

Diversified global miner BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) announced Friday it has formally exited the $45 billion Browse gas joint venture, in Western Australia, after completing the sale of its stake to PetroChina for $1.63 billion.

The news comes less than two months after operator Woodside shelved the project in its current form.

As most major mining companies, BHP’s current focus is to improve to improve the firm's balance sheet. BHP’s goal is to reduce its annual capital expenditures to $15 billion from an estimated $22 billion in two to three years' time.

CEO Andrew MacKenzie , who took over as BHP’s head about a month ago, said yesterday the company has earmarked just $18 billion for capital expenditures during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014, and about $15 billion in the next two to three years. This compares with about $22 billion this fiscal year.