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Beach Energy managing director Reg Nelson. Image courtesy of ABC News.

Incoming Beach Energy managing director Rob Cole will assume leadership of the company three months earlier than expected after freeing himself of commitments at his previous firm, Woodside Petroleum.

Outgoing managing director Reg Nelson will step down from his post on March 10, Australia-based Beach Energy said Monday.

Cole was initially slated to start on June 1 but will now immediately take over when Nelson steps down next week.

He most recently served as executive director and executive vice president, corporate and commercial at Australia-based Woodside.

Cole joined Beach’s board in February 2012 and is set to earn $1.2 million per year.

Beach Energy said it is “extremely pleased” Cole will take the helm earlier than expected.

“Rob’s significant experience in the oil and gas industry, and particularly in relation to strategy and corporate development, will be invaluable to Beach as we navigate the current period of oil price volatility and position the company for sustainable growth over the longer term,” Beach Enery said.