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January 26 2006

Noble guarded on plans for Smedvig shares

Sugar Land, Texas, based Noble Corporation, is being guarded about what it intends to do with its shares in Norwegian driller Smedvig.

On December 23, it made a $700 million swoop in which it acquired 21,095,600 A shares and 2,501,374 B shares equaling approximately 39.24 % of the voting A shares and approximately 28.87 % of the issued shares in Smedvig ASA.

On January 23, 2006, SeaDrill Limited announced it had received acceptances for a total of 24,876,009 Class A shares and 15,417,402 Class B shares of Smedvig under a voluntary offer and that, including its already owned shares, SeaDrill controlled 51.24 percent of the Class A shares and 52.47 percent of the Smedvig capital.

SeaDrill has expressed its intention to put forward a mandatory offer in Norway together with a tender offer in the United States to all remaining shareholders in Smedvig as soon as practically possible.

As a result, says Noble, it is "currently reviewing available alternatives relative to the company's investment in Smedvig shares. The company has no present plans or intention to make an offer for the balance of the shares of Smedvig the company does not own. The company continues to reserve the right to pursue all options available to it."

There is speculation that those options could include some sort of carve up of Smedvig between SeaDrill and Noble.

Noble made its announcement in reporting net income for the fourth quarter of 2005 of $101.3 million, or $0.73 per diluted share, on operating revenues of $360.6 million, compared to net income of $52.9 million, or $0.39 per diluted share, on operating revenues of $302.2 million for the fourth quarter of 2004. Net income for the year ended December 31, 2005 was $296.7 million, or $2.16 per diluted share, on operating revenues of $1,382.1 million, compared to net income of $146.1 million, or $1.09 per diluted share, on operating revenues of $1,066.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2004.

James C. Day, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President, said: "Even with extraordinary weather events, the company's financial results continued to improve throughout the year."

According to Day, Noble "is well positioned with talented personnel and premium assets to fully participate in an expanding worldwide market anticipated in 2006. Assuring access to premium assets for our key clients remains a challenge particularly in the ultra deep market."

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