The Age quoted Yeager as saying yesterday, at a briefing in Melbourne on the division's outlook, that growth through acquisitions would "become a more and more important part of our business as we go forward".
He added the world's largest miner would like to see its petroleum arm account for between 20-30% of a BHP enlarged by Rio.
The newspaper added that BHP had not been as active in oil sector mergers and acquisitions in recent years due to the petroleum division's lack of credibility within the group following its poor performance on several fronts, especially maintaining production
However this has since been reversed after Yeager, a former ExxonMobil executive, joined the company two years ago.
Yeager said that since the division's credibility had been restored, making mergers and acquisitions was "much more of a logical extension because you are putting it into a good business".
BHP Billiton chief executive Marius Kloppers said last week the company's petroleum division was a "base business" for the company and "extremely important" for its future.
Petroleum had delivered a consistent return for BHP and diversified its portfolio risk, paving the way for huge growth and gave "first class" investment returns, Kloppers added.
He also said that while BHP's oil and gas business would rank about number 25 among listed petroleum players, BHP's larger size gave the company access to bigger and better deals as well as bigger and better assets.