Noble Corp. Reports Record Quarterly Earnings of $1.51 per Share

Noble Corporation (NYSE: NE) reported net income for the third quarter of 2006 of $207.2 million, or $1.51 per diluted share, on operating revenues of $562.0 million, compared to net income of $76.5 million, or $0.55 per diluted share, on operating revenues of $367.2 million for the third quarter of 2005. Net income for the nine months ended September 30, 2006 was $532.2 million, or $3.86 per diluted share, on operating revenues of $1.54 billion, compared to net income of $195.4 million, or $1.42 per diluted share, on operating revenues of $1.02 billion for the nine months ended September 30, 2005, a 172 percent increase in net income and a 51 percent increase in operating revenues.

At September 30, 2006, the Company's consolidated balance sheet reflected $3.15 billion in shareholders' equity, $169.8 million in cash and marketable securities, and $696.4 million in total debt. Net cash provided by operating activities for the nine month period ended September 30, 2006 was $695.2 million as compared to $338.0 million in the same period of 2005. Debt as a percentage of total capitalization was 18 percent at September 30, 2006, decreasing from 29 percent at December 31, 2005.

James C. Day, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, said, "The worldwide drilling markets remained active as anticipated during the period. In addition, inquiries as to rig availability for projects starting in 2007 and beyond indicate demand for premium assets should be strong."

Net income for the third quarter of 2006 increased 15 percent from the second quarter of 2006 as average dayrates on the Company's deepwater units continued to increase. Total operating days were down slightly (22 days) from the prior quarter attributable solely to the higher number of shipyard days quarter over quarter.

Compared to the third quarter of 2005, net income for the third quarter of 2006 increased 171 percent due principally to higher dayrates and additional operating days. In August of 2005, the Company activated the Noble Mark Burns and also acquired the remaining 50 percent interest in the Noble Harvey Duhaney.

Offshore contract drilling services revenues from deepwater drilling units (capable of drilling in water depths of 4,000 feet or greater) accounted for approximately 36 percent and 33 percent of the Company's total contract drilling services revenues for the third quarter of 2006 and 2005, respectively. The Company currently operates five deepwater semisubmersibles in the Gulf of Mexico, two deepwater semisubmersibles and three deepwater drillships offshore Brazil, and one deepwater semisubmersible in Nigeria. Shipyard upgrades were completed on the Noble Therald Martin in July at which time the unit began mobilization to Brazil, and commenced operations in October. The Company recently finalized a two year extension with Shell for the semisubmersible Noble Jim Thompson, which will continue to work in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, commencing in or about March 2007. Contract drilling services revenues from international sources accounted for approximately 73 percent and 76 percent of the Company's total contract drilling services revenues for the third quarter of 2006 and 2005, respectively.

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 129 percent to $290,976 in the third quarter of 2006 compared to $127,240 in the third quarter of 2005. The deepwater market remains strong globally.

The average dayrate for the Company's international jackups was $79,485 in the third quarter of 2006 compared to $55,271 in the third quarter of 2005. Utilization on these units decreased slightly to 97 percent in the recent quarter as compared to 98 percent in the third quarter of 2005. The Noble Carl Norberg was mobilized during the second quarter of 2006 from the Mediterranean to West Africa where shipyard upgrades were completed. This unit commenced operations in Equatorial Guinea in late August.

Day said, "Key customers have expressed interest in our Noble Bingo 9000 Rig 4 semisubmersible hull. The unit could be placed in service by 2009, subject to a contract being consummated in the near term."

The Company repurchased 1,300,000 of its ordinary shares in the third quarter at an average price of $65.08 per share, excluding related transaction costs.

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