Noble fleet down to 30 rigs after two scrapped

  • Exploration & Production

Noble Corporation, an offshore drilling contractor, has reduced its fleet to thirty units after retiring two drilling rigs. In addition, Noble will warm stack two of its ultra-deepwater semi-submersible rigs. 

In its 4Q results report on Thursday, Noble said it decided to retire the 1976-built drillship Noble Discoverer and the 1979-built jack-up Noble Charles Copeland, thus reducing its entire fleet count to 30 rigs and its jack-up fleet to 14 units, including one under construction.

The move to retire the drillship Noble Discoverer came after the rig received a contract termination from Shell in December.

However, Shell said it would pay Noble for the remaining term at approximately 90% of the operating dayrate adjusted for certain other items. The oil major used the Noble Discoverer for its Arctic drilling operations alongside the Transocean’s semi-submersible drilling rig Polar Pioneer.


Noble posts loss in 4Q


Noble on Thursday reported a fourth quarter 2015 net loss attributable to Noble Corporation of $152 million, on revenues of $858 million, compared to the net loss of $609 million in the fourth quarter of 2014. Results for the fourth quarter of 2015 included an after-tax charge of $418 million, relating to the impairment of two rigs and certain corporate assets.

According to Noble, fourth quarter 2015 results benefited from a lump sum payment to the company, adjusted for certain other items, following Shell’s decision to terminate its remaining contract commitment on the Noble Discoverer in accordance with the terms of the contract.

The company recognized a net gain of $140 million after-tax following the termination.

Commenting on the company’s 4Q results and outlook for 2016, David W. Williams, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Noble Corporation, stated: “Ongoing cost control measures are likely to result in further reductions in 2016.”

Noble’s contract drilling services revenues in the fourth quarter of 2015 were $837 million, or $693 million after excluding approximately $145 million relating to the contract termination on the Noble Discoverer.

Although fleet utilization improved slightly in the fourth quarter to 83 percent compared to 82 percent in the previous quarter, average daily revenues, exclusive of the contract settlement and the arbitration award in the fourth and third quarters of 2015, respectively, declined 6 percent to $304,400 in the fourth quarter compared to $325,500 in the third quarter.

The decline was due largely to unfavorable contractual dayrate changes across the fleet and an increase in fleet downtime, primarily on rigs in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, which were partially offset by the start of operations on the jack-up rig Noble Tom Prosser, Noble explained.

Following its decision to retire the Noble Discoverer, the company closed 2015 with all eight of its remaining drillships under long-term contracts.


Warm stack


In the semi-submersible fleet, the Noble Homer Ferrington remains cold stacked while the Noble Max Smith is idle. The company has started plans to “warm stack” the ultra-deepwater semi-submersibles Noble Jim Day and Noble Danny Adkins. The Noble Jim Day concluded a contract in late-January 2016 and the Noble Danny Adkins is expected to conclude its current drilling assignment by late-February 2016.

Since the close of 2015, the Noble Sam Hartley has started a three-year contract offshore Brunei and the Noble Sam Turner was awarded a two-year contract extension, placing the rig under contract through late-August 2018. As part of the extension, the rig’s dayrate was reduced to $197,000 effective December 3, 2015, from a previous dayrate of $218,000 and the two-year extension will begin in late-June 2016 at a dayrate of $96,500.


Challenging outlook


“We face a challenging offshore fundamental outlook in 2016,” said David Williams, “But Noble has successfully adapted to difficult cycles over its 95-year history and 2016 will be no different.”

Williams added: “Our focus in 2016 will continue to center around operating our fleet in a safe and efficient manner, while capitalizing on contract opportunities that develop across our regions of operation.”

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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