- BHP said its petroleum business was set to deliver 'strong' returns through the 2020s thanks to a foundation of quality assets, and attractive growth options.

The company outlined a scenario in which its petroleum business could potentially generate operating earnings margins of more than 60% and an average return on capital employed of more than 15%.

It also targeted internal rates of return of around 25% for major projects and suggested the business could support an average annual volume growth of up to 3% between the 2020 and 2030 financials years.

Petroleum production for fiscal 2020 was guided in a range of 110m to 116m barrels of oil equivalent (boe) at unit cost of $10.5 to $11.5 per boe. The average production over the medium term was forecast to be about 110m boe at unit cost of US$13 per boe.

'Our portfolio of quality assets and pipeline of competitive growth options are expected to generate strong free cash flow and returns through the 2020s and beyond,' said BHP president of operations petroleum, Geraldine Slattery.

'In a decarbonising world, deepwater oil and advantaged gas close to established infrastructure can offer competitive returns for decades to come,' Slattery added.

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