Noble Drilling has agreed to purchase two semisubmersible drilling rigs, the Transocean 96 and Transocean 97, from subsidiaries of Transocean Sedco Forex Inc. for an aggregate of $31.0 million in an all cash transaction. The units are both pentagon designed semisubmersibles currently capable of operating in water depths up to 2,350 feet and were upgraded in 1997. Plans call for an investment of approximately $25 to $35 million per unit for refurbishments and upgrades to work in deeper water depths. Subject to customary closing conditions, Noble expects to close the purchases this month.
James C. Day, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said, "The investment community is well aware of our successful acquisition and refurbishment efforts over the last five years focusing on deep water which has produced excellent returns on capital. We anticipate utilizing our proprietary alloy riser (patent pending) to increase the water depth capability of the units very cost effectively."