Maersk Contractors will continue to operate the rigs on behalf of the new owners until the existing contracts with Maersk Oil & Gas expire in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
The crews will thus remain on board the rigs until Maersk Contractors' involvement comes to an end, and will then be transferred to other units in the rig fleet. Maersk Contractors presently has eight highly advanced drilling rigs under construction for delivery between 2007 and 2010 and several of these are expected to be employed in the North Sea.
Maersk Exerter, Maersk Enhancer and Maersk Endeavour are all jackup rigs built in 1982.
Northern Offshore Ltd. says the purchase price for the rigs is US$455 million, and will be funded through existing cash resources and debt finance.
Jim LaChance, Chairman of Northern Offshore commented: "We are delighted to have concluded this transaction. The acquisition of three high quality North Sea Jack Ups will materially strengthen the size and the quality of our fleet. Through the initial management agreement with Maersk Contractors and the current drilling contracts with Maersk Oil and Gas we will be given time to build a quality operation around the assets. The contract opportunities we see for these assets going forward will be valuable in our effort to build Northern Offshore into a solid long term drilling contractor with good charter coverage. The transaction is expected to significantly improve cash flow and earnings per share short term as well as long term.
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