NOF to take Transocean semis

Houston-based Northern Offshore Limited has provided further details on its plan to buy two semi-submersible rigs after an announcement earlier today.

NOF says it will buy the GSF Arctic II and GSF Arctic IV which are both currently operating in the UK sector of the North Sea in a deal with owner Transocean Inc.

Northern has agreed to pay US $750 m for the two drilling units, with Transocean providing $745 m of selling finance until December 2010, and the deals are expected to close in the third and fourth quarter this year, subject to completion of existing contracts.

Marion Woolie, chief executive of Northern said the deals will improve the company’s earning capability and marks the next step in the company’s growth after acquiring North Sea jackup rigs last year.

“The senior management of Northern Offshore, having been formerly employed by GlobalSantaFe, is well acquainted with the rigs and their crews, which should ensure a safe and smooth integration process,” stated Woolie, who was previously president of Global Marine, and who also served as senior vice president for operations at GlobalSantaFe from 2001 to 2007.

Both Arctic rigs are third-generation Friede and Goldman Enhanced Pacesetter designs, with the Arctic II capable of operating in depths to 365 m (1,200 ft) and the Arctic IV to 460 m (1,500 ft).

Currently the Arctic II is already on contract until the end of 2008 at a US $400,000 dayrate, and the Arctic IV is operating for Shell until September 2010.