Beach aims for ASX top 50

Beach Energy's Cooper Basin operations

Beach Energy's Cooper Basin operations

Beach Energy has outlined an ambitious strategy to become an ASX top 50 company through a combination of efficiency and CAPEX tightening measures and potential acquisitions.

The company published the three-phased strategy on August 12 after first announcing a review of its operations and investments in April.

The strategy states that the company is aiming to see a step‐change in annual production and similar growth in 2P reserves over the next ten years.

Since April, Beach Energy has reportedly completed assessments of all the company’s staff and portfolio of assets and formulated its goal of reaching the ASX top 50 while also allegedly achieving a corporate cost savings of 15 per cent for FY16.

The company aims to improve its position in the Cooper Basin, where it holds a 20.21 per cent interest in the South Australian Cooper Basin Joint Venture and between 20 and 40 per cent of the South West Queensland Joint Ventures, which are operated by Santos Limited.

According to the August 12 strategy document, Beach aims to improve its returns from its Cooper Basin interests in the long term, will form a team to reinvigorate exploration in the area, undergo a comprehensive basin analysis across South Australia and Queensland and has also set up a team that is currently screening acquisition opportunities.

The company has also reportedly identified marginal assets, which are ear‐marked for potential divestment pending.

On the east coast, Beach Energy says it will move to farm‐down its onshore Otway Basin permits “with a suitable partner to be identified”. The company will continue 3D seismic on its offshore Otway Basin permit and review the Manta business case in the offshore Gippsland Basin where the firm has a 35 per cent stake and an estimated 23 PJ of gas per annum has been identified.

And in an effort to expand Beach’s growth opportunities in areas beyond the Cooper Basin, the company has confirmed it will undergo farm‐downs and reviews of its Bonaparte Basin and New Zealand Canterbury Basin propositions over the next two years.

Beach’s ambitious plan to grow to one of Australia’s biggest oil and gas firms comes amid a widely reported crackdown on CAPEX spending at the company.

In June the company announced its exit from Romania, is farming down its Tanzanian permits and as recently as this week, announced the sale of its Egyptian assets.

The firm’s latest quarterly financial statements, released in July, noted a 40 per cent reduction in CAPEX for FY16 to between $240 and $270 million.

Beach’s unconventional gas assets will see the largest reduction in resources with the company earmarking just $5 million for exploration, down from $60 million in FY15.

The company’s total exploration bill of $131 million is expected to be halved amid assumptions of a continued lower oil price environment and “with a focus on preserving cash reserves and maintaining liquidity.”

Beach Energy Group Executive Affairs Chris Jamieson told Gas Today that the company plans to focus on the offshore Gippsland Basin, as well as offshore and onshore opportunities in the Otway Basin.

“If we’re able to tap conventional sources down there, that’s definitely something we’d be interested in,” Mr Jamieson said, adding that the company hoped that Victoria’s current moratorium is lifted soon to allow further onshore development.

Mr Jamieson said the “marginal assets” earmarked for divestment were “anything in the portfolio that’s not paying its way.”

When asked about future mergers or acquisitions, the Beach Energy spokesman was tight-lipped, saying only that “a lot of opportunities come across our desk.”

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