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PERTH, Nov 23 AAP

November 23 2012, 2:21PM

Oil and gas producer Beach Energy says its Cooper Basin operations are going well as it boosts staffing levels and ramps up its $400 million growth phase.

The Adelaide-based company expects to provide guidance about a further resource upgrade early in 2013 as it increases exploration in the Cooper Basin, which straddles outback South Australia and Queensland, and strengthens staff numbers by 180, or 37 per cent, by the end of this financial year.

Unconventional wells are being fractured at Moomba 191, Moonta 1, Streaky 1 and Halifax 1 in central eastern Australia, Beach says.

"We need to continue our focus on the engine room in the conventional Cooper Basin, which is ticking over very nicely," outgoing Beach chairman Bob Kennedy told the company's annual general meeting on Friday.

Mr Kennedy said Beach would further develop its "tremendous position" in the unconventional space in Australia and bring forward "as quickly as reasonably possible" exploration and development activities in Tanzania, Egypt and Romania.

Managing director Reg Nelson said Beach needed to find the right people as it embarked on a significant growth phase.

"The Cooper Basin is undergoing a major resurgence and the market is finally standing up and taking notice," he told shareholders.

He said several billion dollars would be spent by petroleum companies on exploration and development in the Cooper Basin over the next five years.

Beach is negotiating the sale of conventional Cooper Basin gas reserves with a number of parties amid strong demand.

The company has $379 million of cash in the bank after acquiring Adelaide Energy for $94 million and taking part in a capital raising earlier this year.

"An increase in the company's issued shares effectively gives us a larger market capitalisation than this time last year," Mr Kennedy said.

He said the international expansion was driven by growing Beach's oil business, which is difficult to do in Australia because of the country's geological maturity.

Shareholders overwhelmingly approved the company's remuneration report on Friday that showed Mr Nelson took home $2.5 million in 2012, up from $1.3 million in 2011.

At 1420 AEDT Beach shares were down three cents at $1.405.

By Kim Christian