Beach Energy has appointed a new CEO, Brett Woods, as it faces the fallout from challenges at its Waitsia project.
Woods has most recently worked at Santos Energy. He will take the top spot at Beach as of February 2024. Bruce Clement is to act as interim CEO until Woods’ arrival.
Morné Engelbrecht left the CEO role as of August 9. He had taken over in May 2022.
Chairman Glenn Davis thanked Engelbrecht for his work as CEO and before as CFO.
“Morné excelled in his role as CFO and stepped into the CEO role at an uncertain time and has since guided the company through a number of operational challenges. Despite those challenges our project delivery continues to advance and Morné should be proud of his contribution to Beach.”
Problems at Waitsia have seen costs rise, with Beach warning yesterday that net costs were forecast to reach A$450-500 million. It had earlier forecast this to be $350-400mn.
Contractor Clough collapsed into bankruptcy in December 2022. Italy’s Webuild struck a deal in February to acquire Clough’s assets, but there have been continued rumours of challenge at Waitsia.
In May, Beach warned the “tight labour market in Western Australia” had had an impact on construction at the Waitsia plant. As such, Beach “no longer considers it prudent or appropriate to maintain its previously targeted schedule and capital estimates”.
The Australian Financial Review quoted analyst Saul Kavonic as saying the change of leadership came at the behest of shareholder Seven Group.
Ryan Stokes, CEO of Seven, became a non-executive director at Beach on July 24. The company has a 30.02% stake in Beach.