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Woodside Petroleum has confirmed it will operate the Scarborough gas field after securing the support of co-stakeholder BHP Billiton for its purchase of ExxonMobil’s 50 per cent stake in the Western Australia field.

BHP Billiton, which holds 25 per cent of the offshore field, will not oppose Woodside’s purchase of ExxonMobil’s holding – a $US750 million deal announced in February that takes Woodside to 75 per cent ownership.

Under the agreement between BHP and Woodside, Woodside will become the operator of the Scarborough field, while BHP will have an option to purchase an additional 10 per cent before December 31, 2019 or the approval of technical planning and costing work.

Woodside CEO Peter Coleman said, in a statement released after the close of market on Monday, that completion of the ExxonMobil stake purchase was expected by the end of March, while a final investment decision was expected in early 2020.