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Press release from PR Newswire

Noble Corporation to Construct Fourth New Ultra-Deepwater Drillship

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Noble Corporation to Construct Fourth New Ultra-Deepwater Drillship08:55 EDT Thursday, September 01, 2011ZUG, Switzerland, Sept. 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Noble 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.About Noble CorporationNoble 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 eight ultra-deepwater drillships 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". Additional information on Noble Corporation is available via the worldwide web at http://www.noblecorp.com.Statements regarding newbuild costs, performance capabilities and specifications, payment terms, timing and execution of a definitive construction contract, rig demand, fleet condition or performance, timing of delivery of newbuilds, contract commitments, rig demand, industry fundamentals, contract commencements, growth opportunities, market outlook, as well as any other statements that are not historical facts in this release, are forward-looking statements that involve certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions. These include but are not limited to operating hazards and delays, risks associated with operations outside of the U.S., actions by regulatory authorities, customers and other third parties, legislation and regulations affecting drilling operations, compliance with regulatory requirements, costs and difficulties relating to the integration of acquired businesses, factors affecting the level of activity in the oil and gas industry, supply and demand of drilling rigs, factors affecting the duration of contracts, delays in the construction of newbuilds, the actual amount of downtime, factors that reduce applicable dayrates, violations of anti-corruption laws, hurricanes and other weather conditions, the future price of oil and gas and other factors detailed in the Company's most recent Form 10-K, Form 10-Q's and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those indicated.  SOURCE Noble CorporationFor further information: Investors, Jeffrey L. Chastain, Vice President - Investor Relations, +1-281-276-6383, or Media, John S. Breed, Director - Corporate Communications, +1-281-276-6729, both of Noble Drilling Services Inc.