BHP Billiton revealed a huge hit from the sharp fall in the oil price with a $7.2bn writedown on its extensive US shale assets.
The asset impairment, which equates to $4.9bn after tax, is the largest announced by the Anglo-Australian group during a wrenching commodities downturn that is devastating the mining and energy sectors.
BHP, the most valuable miner by market capitalisation, has always been unusual in the sector by virtue of its significant oil business. It vastly expanded its exposure to oil in 2012 when it spent more than $20bn on US shale acquisitions.
The impairments announced on Thursday mean BHP has now written off almost $13bn on the deals in which, in addition to the purchase costs, it has committed more than $15bn of capital investment. The group said the value of its onshore US assets now stood at $16bn, after depreciation and amortisation and including $4bn of deferred tax liabilities....MORE