Noble Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2003 Results



Noble Corporation reported net income for the fourth quarter of 2003 of $30.3 million, or $0.23 per diluted share, on operating revenues of $239.8 million, compared to net income of $51.5 million, or $0.39 per diluted share, on operating revenues of $252.8 million for the fourth quarter of 2002. Net income for the year ended December 31, 2003 was $166.4 million, or $1.25 per diluted share, on operating revenues of $987.4 million, compared to net income of $209.5 million, or $1.57 per diluted share, on operating revenues of $990.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2002.

At December 31, 2003, the Company's consolidated balance sheet reflected $2.17 billion in shareholders' equity, $228.4 million in cash and marketable securities, and $589.6 million in total debt. Net cash provided by operating activities for the three and twelve month periods ended December 31, 2003 was $139.2 million and $365.3 million, respectively.

James C. Day, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said, "While operating events in the fourth quarter impacted our quarter on quarter results, the Company again achieved the highest return on capital of the offshore drilling contractors. These results were in spite of lackluster drilling activity levels in most regions of the world."

Offshore contract drilling services revenues from deepwater drilling units (capable of drilling in 4,000 feet or greater) accounted for approximately 38 percent and 35 percent of the Company's total offshore contract drilling services revenues for the fourth quarter of 2003 and 2002, respectively. The Company currently operates seven deepwater semisubmersibles in the Gulf of Mexico and one deepwater semisubmersible and three deepwater drillships offshore Brazil. Offshore contract drilling services revenues from international sources accounted for approximately 72 percent and 70 percent of the Company's total offshore contract drilling services revenues for the fourth quarter of 2003 and 2002, respectively. Results for the fourth quarter of 2003 were adversely impacted by continued weak market conditions in certain international markets, primarily the North Sea and West Africa, partially offset by solid performance in Mexico and the Middle East. In addition, four of the Company's units were in the shipyard during the quarter undergoing maintenance work or preparing for long-term contracts. The average dayrate for the Company's international rigs was $55,961 in the fourth quarter of 2003 compared to $58,264 in the fourth quarter of 2002. Likewise, utilization on these rigs decreased from 95 percent in the fourth quarter of 2002 to 76 percent in the fourth quarter of 2003.

The average dayrate on our deepwater assets in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico capable of drilling in 6,000 feet or greater decreased two percent to $109,544 in the fourth quarter of 2003, while utilization decreased to 95 percent this quarter from full utilization in the fourth quarter of 2002. The average dayrate on the Company's domestic jackup rigs was $38,961 in the fourth quarter of 2003, or 31 percent higher than the same quarter of 2002. Utilization on these units increased to 98 percent in the fourth quarter of 2003 as compared to 82 percent in the fourth quarter of 2002. However, the Company had 320 fewer operating days for domestic jackup rigs during the fourth quarter of 2003 as compared to the same quarter of 2002 following the mobilization of seven premium jackup units out of this region to Mexico under long-term contracts beginning in September 2002. Our eight premium jackups in Mexico had an average dayrate in the fourth quarter of 2003 of $50,621, or 30 percent higher than the average dayrate of our two premium jackups in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, with 100 percent utilization.

Day said, "Obviously as the domestic industry continues to be challenged to replace oil and gas production offshore, the international arena will be the beneficiary of increased drilling activity in 2004 and beyond. West Africa, specifically, will witness a significant improvement in overall rig utilization from the depressed levels of 2003. The longer the industry experiences lower rig activity levels, the more pronounced the recovery should be, particularly in periods of robust oil and gas prices."

Noble Corporation is a leading provider of diversified services for the oil and gas industry. Contract drilling services are performed with the Company's fleet, which stands at 59* mobile offshore drilling units located in key markets worldwide. The Company's fleet of floating deepwater units consists of 13 semisubmersibles and three dynamically positioned drillships, seven of which are designed to operate in water depths greater than 5,000 feet. The Company's premium fleet of 40* independent leg, cantilever jackup rigs includes 26* units that operate in water depths of 300 feet or greater, four of which operate in water depths of 360 feet or greater, and 11 units that operate in water depths up to 250 feet. In addition, the Company's fleet includes three submersible units. Nine of the Company's units are capable of operating in harsh environments. Approximately 75 percent of the fleet is currently deployed in international markets, principally including the North Sea, Brazil, West Africa, the Middle East, Mexico, India, and the Mediterranean Sea. The Company provides technologically advanced drilling-related products and services designed to create value for our customers. The Company also provides labor contract drilling services, well site and project management services, and engineering services. The Company's ordinary shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "NE".
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