‘Robust pipeline of opportunities’ for Noble rigs

Offshore drilling contractor Noble Corporation is seeing an increase in demand for offshore drilling rigs – its floater fleet was 100 per cent contracted in 2Q – and the rig owner expects this positive momentum to continue.

In its latest fleet status report, issued on Monday, Noble Corp. said that its two jack-up rigs, the Noble Houston Colbert & Noble Mick O’Brien, have signed firm contracts in Qatar following previously announced Letters of Award with an undisclosed operator for 3.5 years per rig.

Excluding these two contracts, which were signed after the end of the second quarter of 2022, Noble’s estimated revenue backlog was approximately $2.1 billion at the end of June. Noble’s marketed floater fleet was 100 per cent contracted in the second quarter.

As detailed in the report, in Suriname, option 2 of 2 for the Noble Gerry de Souza drillship has been exercised by APA Corp – and novated to TotalEnergies – for operations in Trinidad & Tobago. As a result, instead of finishing this contract in September, the rig is scheduled to complete it in October 2022.

In the second quarter, the Noble Regina Allen jack-up started operations in Guyana for Repsol but the well is being plugged and abandoned after finding that both targets are water-bearing. After completion of its current campaign this month, the rig is scheduled to return to Trinidad and Tobago to drill six wells with a different operator.

Namely, an undisclosed operator has exercised option 1 of 3 for this jack-up for two wells with a day rate of $112,000. The rig now has two two-well options remaining under this contract.

Finally, U.S.-based LLOG has awarded a one-well firm contract for the drillship Noble Faye Kozack, including managed pressure drilling services. The Gulf of Mexico contract – with a day rate of $420,000 – is scheduled to start in February and end in April 2023. The rig is currently working for QuarterNorth until November 2022 with a day rate of $290,000.

Noble Corp. is in the process of merging with Danish contractor Maersk Drilling. To address potential concerns identified by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the review of this combination, Noble has agreed to sell five of its jack-up rigs to Shelf Drilling.

The CMA is expected to publish its final decision on the divestment’s adequacy in addressing competition concerns on 1 September and, if the buyer and related sale agreement are accepted by the CMA, the combination is expected to occur on 3 October 2022 with the jack-up divestment sale expected to close promptly thereafter.

Demand for offshore rigs increasing

Noble on Monday also posted its financial results for 2Q 2022, reporting revenues of $275 million compared to $210 million in 1Q 2022 and compared to $219 million in 2Q 2021. The company booked a profit of $37 million in 2Q 2022 compared to a loss of $37 million in 1Q 2022 and a profit of $20 million in 2Q 2021.

Commenting on Noble’s outlook for the second half of 2022, Robert W. Eifler, President and Chief Executive Officer of Noble Corporation, said: “Demand for offshore drilling is increasing in all our key operating regions, and we expect this positive momentum to continue despite global economic concerns.

“Tender activity remains at attractive levels and our customers have a robust pipeline of opportunities for our rigs.”

A couple of weeks ago, the total backlog of Noble’s rival Transocean was approximately $6.2 billion only to increase by $1.24 billion last week, topping $7 billion. Transocean is also optimistic about the state of the offshore drilling market, believing that “this momentum could continue for the foreseeable future.”

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