Noble Reports First Quarter 2005 Results

Noble Corporation (NYSE: NE) reported net income for the first quarter of 2005 of $45.5 million, or $0.33 per diluted share, on operating revenues of $310.3 million, compared to net income of $28.3 million, or $0.21 per diluted share, on operating revenues of $245.4 million for the first quarter of 2004.

At March 31, 2005, the Company's consolidated balance sheet reflected $2.48 billion in shareholders' equity, $196.4 million in cash and marketable debt securities, and $469.6 million in total debt. Net cash provided by operating activities for the three month period ended March 31, 2005 was $71.5 million. Debt as a percentage of total capitalization decreased from 18 percent as of December 31, 2004 to 16 percent as of March 31, 2005. This was primarily as a result of the Company repaying $40 million principal amount of the outstanding balance on its $300 million bank credit facility during the first quarter of 2005.

James C. Day, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President, said, "While oil prices have softened, near term inquiries for rigs remain brisk."

Net income for the first quarter of 2005 was 14 percent lower than the fourth quarter of 2004 because the results for the fourth quarter of 2004 were benefited by the favorable resolution of income tax audits. Excluding the effect of this item, results for the first quarter of 2005 improved over the fourth quarter of 2004 as the Company experienced a 4 percent increase in international dayrates, with deepwater drilling units (capable of drilling in water depths of 4,000 feet or greater) experiencing the greatest improvements. In addition, the Noble Homer Ferrington, which began a long-term contract for ExxonMobil in West Africa in late November 2004, contributed 90 operating days during the first quarter versus 31 days in the fourth quarter of 2004.

Compared to the first quarter of 2004, net income for the first quarter of 2005 increased 61 percent due principally to higher utilization on international jackups. In West Africa, the Noble Percy Johns, Noble Don Walker, Noble Lloyd Noble and Noble Ed Noble worked the entire first quarter of 2005 whereas these rigs were stacked during the first quarter of 2004. The number of operating days in West Africa increased from 173 days in the first quarter of 2004 to 630 days in the first quarter of 2005, including those attributable to the deployment of the Noble Homer Ferrington to Nigeria on a long-term contract. In the Middle East, the Noble Cees van Diemen (which commenced in September 2004 its first contract since acquisition by the Company), the Noble David Tinsley (which commenced in February 2005 its first contract since acquisition by the Company) and the Noble Dick Favor (which was in drydock during the first quarter of 2004) contributed an additional 183 operating days to the first quarter of 2005 as compared to the 2004 first quarter.

In Brazil, the Noble Roger Eason was in the shipyard the entire first quarter of 2005 completing planned maintenance and significant upgrades, including a water depth capability increase to 7,200 feet. This unit commenced its 700-day contract for Petrobras in April 2005 at a dayrate of $96,250.

Offshore contract drilling services revenues from deepwater drilling units (capable of drilling in water depths of 4,000 feet or greater) accounted for approximately 31 percent and 34 percent of the Company's total contract drilling services revenues for the first quarter of 2005 and 2004, respectively. The Company currently operates six deepwater semisubmersibles in the Gulf of Mexico, one deepwater semisubmersible and three deepwater drillships offshore Brazil, and one deepwater semisubmersible in Nigeria. Contract drilling services revenues from international sources accounted for approximately 78 percent and 70 percent of the Company's total contract drilling services revenues for the first quarter of 2005 and 2004, respectively.

The average dayrate for the Company's international jackup rigs was $51,158 in the first quarter of 2005 compared to $49,962 in the first quarter of 2004. Utilization on these rigs improved to 94 percent in the recent quarter as compared to 80 percent in the first quarter of 2004. The average dayrate on the Company's deepwater assets in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico capable of drilling in water depths of 6,000 feet or greater depending on the unit decreased 5 percent to $104,426 in the first quarter of 2005 as compared to $110,322 in the first quarter of 2004. Utilization on these units was 75 percent during the first quarter of 2005 and 100 percent in the same quarter of the previous year as the Noble Paul Romano was in the shipyard for the first quarter of 2005. The average dayrate on the Company's domestic jackups increased 35 percent to $55,819 in the first quarter 2005 as compared to $41,292 in the first quarter of 2004. These units were fully utilized in the recent quarter as compared to utilization of 95 percent in the first quarter of 2004.

Day said, "We anticipate interest in our semisubmersible hulls to increase as deepwater activity expands."

The Company also reported that its subsidiary owner of the Noble Clyde Boudreaux deepwater semisubmersible has contracted for a two-year drilling program with Shell Exploration & Production Company (in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico with an estimated commencement date in the third quarter 2006. The Company had reported in December 2004 that the Noble Clyde Boudreaux received a commitment from Shell for the two-year contract. The Noble Clyde Boudreaux is a moored semisubmersible designed with a drilling depth of up to 35,000 feet in water depths of up to 10,000 feet with living accommodations for 200 persons. The Company also announced a two-year contract with Pemex on the Noble Lewis Dugger at a dayrate of $64,250 beginning May 2005. In addition, Shell has extended the contract for the Noble Jim Thompson, a Noble EVA-4000(TM) deepwater semisubmersible, from June 2005 through December 2005.

Noble Corporation is a leading provider of diversified services for the oil and gas industry. Contract drilling services are performed with the Company's premium fleet of 60 mobile offshore drilling units located in key markets worldwide. This fleet consists of 13 semisubmersibles, three dynamically positioned drillships, 41 jackups and three submersibles. Approximately 80 percent of the fleet is currently deployed in international markets, principally including the Middle East, Mexico, the North Sea, Brazil, West Africa, 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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