coe takeover target for bpt

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    An article from SMH.

    Junior oil explorers are back and raring to drill
    By Barry FitzGerald
    October 17, 2003

    Strong oil prices and exploration successes are fuelling a renaissance in Australia's junior oil and gas sector.

    Depleted to a handful of stocks in the 1990s, more than a dozen juniors are now laying the groundwork to become long-term players, increasing investor choice in the sector to more than just Woodside or Santos.

    That was highlighted yesterday when the Adelaide-based Beach Petroleum set out to raise $34 million and the Roc Oil-led Cliff Head joint venture in the offshore portion of the Perth Basin gave the conditional go-ahead for a $140 million development of the oilfield.

    Beach said its fund raising would be by way of a placement to institutions at 33c a share and an underwritten share purchase plan for shareholders (up to $5000 in new shares) at the same price. It said the funds would be used to fund the continued growth of its oil and gas operations.

    "This will include accelerating the exploration effort in several of Beach's key prospects and the commencement of drilling of our larger oilfield targets in the Cooper Basin," the company said.

    Acquisitions are also on the agenda. While the company has made a success of acquiring producing assets in the past, the market is tipping its next acquisition could be a corporate move.

    Recent oil discoveries by juniors on previously overlooked and Santos-held acreage in the Cooper Basin make them prime targets. Before Beach's fund-raising announcement, there was speculation that the group was getting ready to pounce on Cooper Energy, a Perth company involved in several recent Cooper Basin oil discoveries.

    The market is betting there could also some rationalisation of ownership in the Cliff Head joint venture before first production comes off in the second half of 2005.

    Sydney-based Roc is the operator with 37.5 per cent; it has four partners, including the locally listed AWE, Voyager and Norwest.

    The go-ahead for the 21 million barrel (recoverable) oilfield is conditional on the satisfactory completion of engineering and design work, along with regulatory approvals.

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