BHP Billiton has approved the $1.58bn development of the Macedon gas field in the Exmouth sub-basin offshore Western Australia.

BHP will operate the field and produce natural gas from offshore production lease WA-42-L, located 100km west of Onslow, with first production expected during 2013.

Recoverable reserves for the Macedon field are between 400 billion and 750 billion cubic feet of gas, BHP said.

The Macedon project involves four offshore production wells supplying a wet gas pipeline to an onshore gas treatment plant to be constructed at Ashburton North, 17km south-west of Onslow.

BHP Billiton owns a 71.43% interest in the Macedon project, while Apache Northwest holds the remaining 28.57%.