USA: Noble Corp. Announces 3Q Earnings of USD 135 Million

USA: Noble Corp. Announces 3Q Earnings of USD 135 Million

Noble Corporation yesterday reported third quarter 2011 earnings of $135 million, or $0.53 per diluted share, compared to $54 million, or $0.21 per diluted share, for the second quarter of 2011. Contract drilling services revenues totaled $705 million in the third quarter of 2011, up 20 percent from $590 million in the second quarter of 2011.

Contract drilling margin percentage for the third quarter of 2011 improved to approximately 49 percent compared to 43 percent in the prior quarter, reflecting higher fleet utilization and average daily revenues. Third quarter results included a benefit of approximately $0.04 per diluted share relating to certain discrete tax items. Noble invested $559 million in capital projects during the third quarter, resulting in capital expenditures for the nine months ended September 30, 2011 of approximately $2 billion.

At September 30, 2011, approximately 81 percent of the Company’s available rig operating days in the floating rig fleet were committed to contracts for the remainder of 2011, with approximately 87 percent of the days committed for the jackup rig fleet. For 2012, approximately 62 percent and 52 percent of rig operating days were committed for the floating and jackup rig fleets, respectively.

David W. Williams, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, noted, “The third quarter was highlighted by a number of accomplishments that further advance the strategic transformation of our fleet. Options for two additional JU3000N design high specification jackup rigs were exercised, bringing the total number of these units to six currently under construction. Additionally, we ordered a fourth ultra-deepwater drillship from Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Ltd., increasing the total number of new, dynamically positioned drillships being added to our fleet to eight. Furthermore, this quarter our ongoing projects have achieved several milestones including the delivery of the drillship Noble Bully I, which is now in transit to the Gulf of Mexico. The drillship Noble Bully II has departed the dock to begin sea trials and the Noble Globetrotter I is undergoing the installation of topsides and commissioning.”

“During the quarter, there were a number of contract awards and extensions throughout our fleet of floating and jackup units. These awards contributed to a revenue backlog at September 30, 2011 of $12.8 billion, which was essentially flat with the measure at June 30, 2011,” Williams said.

Operations Highlights

In Mexico, where fleet utilization improved to 86 percent in the third quarter from 65 percent in the second quarter of 2011, two of the Company’s jackup rigs received contract extensions; the Noble Earl Fredrickson, to late December 2011, at a dayrate of $58,000, level with the previous contract, and the Noble Carl Norberg to late August 2014 at a dayrate of $68,000, up from $58,000 on the previous contract. Noble now has 11 of its 12 jackup rigs and the deepwater semisubmersible rig Noble Max Smith under contract in Mexico into late 2011 or beyond, with promising jackup contract opportunities in the region continuing into 2012.

In the North Sea, jackup fleet utilization remained at 100 percent in the third quarter, while the Company continued to benefit from steady customer demand, supporting an improving dayrate environment. The jackup rig Noble Lynda Bossler was awarded a contract extension to early December 2012 at a dayrate of $125,000, up from a previous dayrate of $105,000. Also, the Noble George Sauvageau was awarded a one-year contract at $115,000 per day, up from $92,000 per day on the previous contract. This rig, along with four of the Company’s other jackups in the region are now contracted through mid-2012 or beyond.

In the Middle East and India, where fleet utilization was 83 percent in the third quarter of 2011 compared to 75 percent in the second quarter of 2011, five of the Company’s jackup rigs were awarded contracts, including the Noble Jimmy Puckett, from April 2012 to April 2014 at a dayrate of $80,000; the Noble Gus Androes, from early October 2011 to late December 2011 at a dayrate of $58,000, while operating in accommodation mode; the Noble Harvey Duhaney, from early February 2012 to early August 2012 at a dayrate of $66,000; the Noble Dick Favor, from late November 2011 to late February 2012 at a dayrate of $95,000; and the drillship Noble Duchess, which has been contracted from mid-March 2012 to mid-March 2015 at a dayrate of $180,000. Both the Noble Dick Favor and Noble Duchess were previously stacked units and have, or will soon, begin reactivation efforts.

In closing, Williams commented, “We are witnessing an intensified effort by a number of customers to secure jackup and floating rigs for drilling operations in 2012 and beyond, supporting higher fleet utilization and improving dayrates, in spite of the unstable global macroeconomic picture. This effort, pertaining to jackup rig needs, remains most evident in Mexico, the North Sea, the Middle East and increasingly in Asia. In the floating rig fleet, especially ultra-deepwater rigs, the increased demand is apparent in numerous regions, but is most pronounced in Brazil, Africa, and the Gulf of Mexico, with all three regions displaying exceptional hydrocarbon potential.”

“Our fleet is well positioned to benefit from this continued increase in activity, with available jackup rig capacity in Mexico and the North Sea, along with available deepwater capacity expected in the Gulf of Mexico and Brazil, where the semisubmersible rigs Noble Jim Day and Noble Clyde Boudreaux, respectively, are expected to complete contracts in early 2012.”

About Noble Corporation

Noble is a leading offshore drilling contractor for the oil and gas industry. Noble performs, through its subsidiaries, contract drilling services with a fleet of 79 offshore drilling units (including seven ultra-deepwater rigs and six jackup drilling rigs currently under construction), located worldwide, including in the Middle East, India, the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Mexico, the Mediterranean, the North Sea, Brazil, West Africa and Asian Pacific. Noble’s shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “NE”.

Source: Noble Corporation, October 20, 2011