Australian-listed Beach Energy is stepping up its exploration work in Egypt, saying today it plans to spend up to US$33 million in the country’s onshore play over the next two years.

Beach said it had sealed a deal with the Kuwait Energy Company which will see it take a 22% stake in the Abu Sennan concession in the Western Desert and a 15% interest in the Mesaha Area concession, effective from 1 January this year.

The package includes a number of undeveloped prospects, Beach said.

The deal is subject to Egyptian regulatory approval.

Abu Sennan covers about 1600 square kilometres and lies 300 kilometres west of Cairo. At least four prospects on teh concession will be drilled in the 2011 financial year.

The partners – operator Kuwait Energy (50%), Dover Investments (28%) and Beach (22%) – hope to get the nod to drill a further 10 wells.

Meantime, appraisal drilling of the GPZZ discovery to establish reserve size is expected in the current quarter.

Mesaha concession lies in southern Egypt on the Sudanese border and covers 57,000 square kilometres. A 2D shoot is currently being carried out across the concession.

Melrose Resources operates Mesaha with a 40% stake. The other partners are Beach (15%), Kuwait Energy (15%), Hellenic Petroleum (30%).