Noble Corp. narrows 1Q loss. CEO sees jack-up market improving

Offshore drilling company Noble Corp. is seeing improvement in the offshore rig market, with the jack-up rig market driving the demand uptick.

Julie Robertson, the company’s CEO, said that when compared to the fourth quarter of 2017, “customer demand is noticeably greater, especially in the jack-up fleet.”

“We are benefitting from growing customer needs for jack-ups in regions that include the North Sea and the Middle East, with some programs having commencement dates in the latter half of 2018 and beyond,“ Robertson said.

“Over the first four months of 2018, the 12-month forward contract coverage for our jack-up fleet has improved to just under 60 percent compared to 53 percent on January 1, and we expect further improvement as we secure additional contract awards in the near term,” she said.

Noble Corp. on Wednesday reported a first-quarter loss of $142 million, on revenues of $235 million. The net loss narrowed when compared to the first quarter of 2017, when the company posted a loss of $301 million.

Operating days for the company’s 14-rig jack-up fleet declined in the first quarter with five rigs idle for all, or a portion of the quarter following the completion of contracts. The decrease resulted in fleet utilization of 56 percent compared to 76 percent in the fourth quarter.

Jack-up utilization rising

Noble First quarter jack-up utilization is expected to be the lowest measure of 2018 following the return to service of three rigs, including the Noble Houston Colbert in February and the Noble Hans Deul and Noble Tom Prosser, both in April.

Also, following the conclusion of the first quarter, two of the company’s premium jack-ups were awarded new contracts.  These awards include a 170-day program for the Noble Houston Colbert for operations in the North Sea, and an estimated 220-day contract for the Noble Mick O’Brien for work offshore the State of Qatar.

Utilization of the company’s 14 floating rigs in the first quarter declined slightly to 37 percent compared to 41 percent in the fourth quarter. The decline was due largely to fewer operating days for the drillship Noble Bob Douglas which relocated to Guyana during the quarter ahead of the start of a three-year contract.

As at March 31, 2018, the company’s contract backlog totaled $2.8 billion, with $1.8 billion attributable to the floating fleet and $1.0 billion to the jack-up fleet. Approximately 51 percent of the available rig operating days remaining in 2018 were committed to contracts, including 38 percent of the floating fleet and 64 percent of the jack-up fleet.

The total backlog and estimate of committed days exclude the above mentioned new contracts.
























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