Noble exercises option for fourth drillship

P1000Noble Corporation (NYSE:NE) today announced that a subsidiary has exercised its option with Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Ltd. ("HHI") for the construction of an additional ultra-deepwater drillship, the fourth such drillship to be ordered this year subject to the parties executing an agreed form of construction contract, which is expected to occur within the next several weeks.

The additional 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 expected delivery from the shipyard during the second half 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 rig is uncontracted at this time.

The delivered cost of the new drillship is expected to be $630 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.

"We continue to see an increase in deepwater demand, both near and longer-term," said David W. Williams, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Noble Corporation. "This view is bolstered not only by geologic successes in the traditional regions offshore the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and Brazil, but also by emerging regions offshore West Africa, Indonesia, the Black Sea, India and eastern Africa.  With the addition of this fourth HHI newbuild drillship, by 2014 Noble will have one of the newest, most versatile and technologically advanced floater fleets in the industry with a total of 28 units, 16 of which will be dynamically positioned."

The new drillship announced today is based on a Hyundai Gusto P10000 hull design and is designed for operations in waters of up to 12,000 feet, but will be delivered fully equipped to operate in up to 10,000 feet of water.  The unit will be equipped with DP-3 station keeping, the ability to handle two complete BOP systems, and multiple parallel activity features that improve well construction and overall project efficiencies, including a heave compensated construction crane to facilitate deployment of subsea production equipment. The drillship will also have accommodations for up to 210 personnel, in addition to a number of other operational enhancements beyond the shipyard's base specifications.

September 1, 2011

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