ExxonMobil caused a stir last week by questioning the adequacy of gas reserves intended for one of the liquefied natural gas projects proposed for California. BHP Billiton, the Australian minerals goliath, is a joint-venture partner with the oil and gas behemoth to develop natural gas resources in the Indian Ocean for sale to California. BHP plans to build a gas liquefaction plant in Western Australia and ship the LNG to a proposed Cabrillo receiving terminal it would construct off the coast near Oxnard. ExxonMobil says there isn?t enough gas to make the project economic. The gas in question lies in the Scarborough field, 175 miles from Australia and under more than 3,000 feet of water. BHP says exploratory drilling indicates that there is 8 Tcf of high-quality gas ?proved plus probable.? ?We don?t agree with their assessment,? said Mark Nolan, chair of ExxonMobil Australia. ?ExxonMobil believes that Scarborough is unlikely to be commercially viable in the near term.? BHP cannot develop Scarborough without agreement from partner ExxonMobil, which appears unlikely in the near term. Whether BHP will obtain gas from other fields and continue with its LNG projects is not known. Supply adequacy does not seem to be the problem with gas from the Australian Gorgon field intended for receiving terminals proposed in Baja California by Sempra and ChevronTexaco. A massive new discovery was recently made in the field. There are other problems?the proposed liquefaction facilities are to be built on an island nature preserve, and the large amount of carbon dioxide found in the gas would have to be pumped back underground. The Aussies appear eager to cash in on $7\/MMBtu gas prices in the U.S. one way or another. And they have gas to sell. ?We must get on with it,? said Resources Minister Ian McFarlane.