The world's biggest miner BHP announced Friday the sale of its US shale oil and gas operations to BP for US$10.5 billion, a heavy loss but a potential windfall for shareholders.
The Anglo-Australian firm spent US$20 billion in 2011 to acquire the assets, but the sector later experienced a fall in prices, hammering profits.
It prompted BHP to announce plans to exit the business last year.
With its net debt currently towards the lower end of its target range of US$10-US$15 billion, the money raised is set to be returned to shareholders, either through dividends or share buybacks.
"We are pleased that we have agreed to sell all of our shale assets in two simple transactions that provide certainty for shareholders and our employees," said BHP chief executive Andrew Mackenzie.
"The sale of our onshore US assets is consistent with our long-term plan to continue to simplify and strengthen our portfolio to generate shareholder value and returns for decades to come."
Under the deal, BP American Production Company, a subsidiary of the British giant, will acquire Petrohawk Energy Corporation, which holds BHP's Eagle Ford, Haynesville and Permian assets, for US$10.5 billion.
In a separate transaction, a unit of the privately owned Merit Energy will buy BHP Billiton Petroleum (Arkansas) Inc. and BHP Billiton Petroleum (Fayetteville) for $US300 million.
Both sales are expected to be completed by the end of October, with BHP's share price jumping 2.22 percent to Aus$34.38 in early trade Friday.
The move follows a push last year by New York-based Elliott Advisors, a significant shareholder in the company, for BHP to restructure the business, including spinning off its US oil and gas operations.