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NOBLE : Corporation Exercises Option to Construct New Ultra-Deepwater Drillship

03/04/2011 | 09:05am US/Eastern

ZUG, Switzerland, March 4, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Noble Corporation (NYSE: NE) today announced that a subsidiary has exercised its first option with Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Ltd. ("HHI") for the construction of an additional ultra-deepwater drillship, the third such drillship to be ordered this year subject to the parties executing a definitive construction contract which is expected to occur within the next week.

This increases the Company's number of floating drilling units to 27, of which 15 are dynamically positioned. The new ultra-deepwater drillship, to be named at a later date, will be constructed on a fixed-price basis at HHI's shipyard in Ulsan, Korea, with an expected delivery from the shipyard in the second quarter of 2014. Following shipyard delivery, the unit is expected to undergo the customary 90-120 day period for mobilization and acceptance prior to being ready to commence a contract. The unit is uncontracted at this time.

The delivered cost of the new drillship is expected to be $615 million and includes the turnkey construction contract, Company furnished equipment, project management and spares, but excludes capitalized interest. The construction contract contains favorable payment terms that incentivize on-time delivery. Under the terms of its agreement with HHI, Noble has one remaining fixed-price option for an additional drillship. The expiration of this remaining option has been extended to August 31, 2011 with delivery taking place in the second half of 2014.

"With the addition of another high specification drillship, Noble continues its strategy of adding rigs with the latest technology, equipment, and capabilities," said David W. Williams, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Noble Corporation. "These HHI drillships, with their true 1,250-ton load path ratings and ability to handle two complete BOP stacks and multiple subsea Christmas trees, will set a new standard for ultra-deepwater operations. When combined with the two Bully-class rigs and two Globetrotter-class rigs currently under construction, as well as the recently delivered Noble Jim Day, Noble Danny Adkins, Noble Dave Beard, and Noble Clyde Boudreaux, Noble's ultra-deepwater fleet is becoming one of the finest in the industry."

As with the two previously announced drillships, this unit will be based on a Hyundai Gusto P10000 hull design and is designed for operations in waters of up to 12,000 feet, although it may be outfitted for less depending on specific contract requirements. The unit will have DP-3 station keeping abilities, the ability to handle two complete BOP systems, a heave compensated construction crane to facilitate deployment of subsea production equipment and accommodations for up to 210 personnel, in addition to a number of other operational enhancements beyond the shipyard's base specifications.

About Noble

Noble is a leading offshore drilling contractor for the oil and gas industry. Noble performs, through its subsidiaries, contract drilling services with a fleet of 74 offshore drilling units (including nine drilling rigs currently under construction), located worldwide, including in the Middle East, India, the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Mexico, the Mediterranean, the North Sea, Brazil, West Africa and Asian Pacific. Noble also owns and operates a dynamically positioned floating production, storage, offloading vessel. Noble's shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "NE". Additional information on Noble Corporation is available via the worldwide web at

Statements regarding newbuild costs, delivery dates, performance capabilities and specifications, payment terms, timing and execution of a definitive construction contract, and strategic intent, as well as any other statements that are not historical facts in this release, are forward-looking statements that involve certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions. These include but are not limited to actions by third parties, corporate approvals, negotiation of and agreement on a final construction contract, governmental actions, litigation risks, operating hazards and delays, risks associated with construction outside of the U.S., factors affecting the level of activity in the oil and gas industry, supply and demand of drilling rigs, factors affecting dayrates and the duration of contracts, factors that affect time in the shipyard, weather conditions, the future prices of oil and gas and other factors detailed in the Company's most recent Form 10-K, Form 10-Q's and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those indicated.

SOURCE Noble Corporation

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