Noble Reports First Quarter 2006 Results



Noble Corporation (NYSE: NE) reported net income for the first quarter of 2006 of $145.2 million, or $1.05 per diluted share, on operating revenues of $461.9 million, compared to net income of $45.5 million, or $0.33 per diluted share, on operating revenues of $310.3 million for the first quarter of 2005.

At March 31, 2006, the Company's consolidated balance sheet reflected $2.9 billion in shareholders' equity, $799.1 million in cash and marketable securities, and $1.1 billion in total debt. Net cash provided by operating activities for the three month period ended March 31, 2006 was $148.7 million as compared to $71.5 million in the prior year. Debt as a percentage of total capitalization, which was 28 percent at March 31, 2006, was reduced to 16 percent on April 10, 2006 following prepayment of $600.0 million of current maturities of long-term debt.

James C. Day, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, said, "As of April 9, 2006 our final unit, the Noble Joe Alford submersible, has now returned to service after being damaged during Hurricane Rita in the Gulf of Mexico. Our proactive mooring enhancement initiative for our ultra deepwater semisubmersibles is progressing with the Noble Jim Thompson scheduled for the NC-5(TM) upgrade in July 2006. This new mooring system is designed to withstand environmental forces experienced in the hurricanes of 2005."

Net income for the first quarter of 2006 increased 43 percent from the fourth quarter of 2005 as average dayrates on the Company's U.S. Gulf of Mexico deepwater units continued to increase and utilization in our international divisions reached 100 percent during the first quarter.

Net income for the first quarter in 2006 increased 219 percent as compared to the first quarter of 2005 due principally to higher dayrates, increased international utilization rates across the fleet and additional operating days. The Noble David Tinsley and the Noble Mark Burns were activated in February and August of 2005, respectively, and we also acquired the remaining 50 percent interest in the Noble Harvey Duhaney in August 2005.

Offshore contract drilling services revenues from deepwater drilling units (capable of drilling in water depths of 4,000 feet or greater) accounted for approximately 37 percent and 31 percent of the Company's total contract drilling services revenues for the first quarter of 2006 and 2005, 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 68 percent and 78 percent of the Company's total contract drilling services revenues for the first quarter of 2006 and 2005, respectively.

The average dayrate for the Company's international jackups was $64,887 in the first quarter of 2006 compared to $51,158 in the first quarter of 2005. Utilization on these units improved to 100 percent in the recent quarter as compared to 94 percent in the first quarter of 2005. The average dayrate on the Company's deepwater units in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico capable of drilling in water depths of 6,000 feet or greater increased 131 percent to $241,562 in the first quarter of 2006 compared to $104,426 in the first quarter of 2005. The U.S. Gulf of Mexico deepwater market has continued to strengthen, and the dayrates under recent contracts for these units have been higher than the average dayrate for the first and fourth quarters of 2005. Utilization on these units was 100 percent during the first quarter of 2006 compared to 75 percent in the same quarter of last year.

Day said, "We continue to experience strong demand for drilling assets worldwide."

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 of 62 mobile offshore drilling units located in key markets worldwide. This fleet consists of 13 semisubmersibles, three dynamically positioned drillships, 43 jackups and three submersibles. The fleet count includes two F&G JU-2000E enhanced premium newbuild jackups under construction, with scheduled delivery of the first unit in the third quarter of 2007 and the second unit in first quarter of 2008. As previously announced, these units have been contracted. Approximately 80 percent of the fleet is currently deployed in international markets, principally including the Middle East, Mexico, the North Sea, Brazil, West Africa and India. 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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