Noble Acquires Options on Two Maersk Jackups
Noble Corporation has entered into option agreements with a subsidiary of A.P. Moeller that give Noble the right to acquire two jackup drilling units, the MAERSK VIKING and MAERSK VALIANT. Both units are MODEC 300C, independent leg, cantilever jackups and are currently operating offshore Iran. In accordance with a license issued to Noble by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury, Noble's right to exercise its options and acquire the units will commence when the units have completed their current drilling contracts and have mobilized to United Arab Emirates territorial waters. This is expected to occur in August 2004 for the Valiant and in January 2004 for the VIKING, but could be delayed by up to one year for the VIKING if its current drilling contract is extended. Noble paid an aggregate of $28.2 million in cash for the two options. If Noble exercises the options, Noble would pay an exercise price not to exceed an additional $65.8 million to acquire both units. The amount of this aggregate exercise price is subject to reduction depending on the delivery date of the units.
As previously announced, in late 2002 Noble acquired from Schlumberger two jackup units, the TRIDENT III and DHABI II, and options to acquire two additional jackup units, the TRIDENT XVIII and TRIDENT XIX. The TRIDENT XVIII has been moved by Schlumberger to the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates, and Noble expects to exercise its option to acquire the unit as soon as possible. The TRIDENT XIX is expected to complete its drilling contract in Iran and be moved by Schlumberger to U.A.E. waters before the end of July. Noble expects to exercise its option to acquire the unit soon thereafter.
James C. Day, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said "The acquisition of the options on the VALIANT and VIKING provides us with an opportunity to acquire two additional premium jackup assets in the Middle East. The options to acquire these two Maersk units, together with our acquisition of the TRIDENT III and DHABI II, and the options to acquire the TRIDENT XVIII and TRIDENT XIX, continue our strategy of opportunistic acquisitions of premium assets capable of working in promising geologic regions. If we exercise the options for the Maersk units when permitted under our OFAC license, the two units would become part of our Middle East fleet, which would then be comprised of 13 premium jackups, including the two Schlumberger units we have under options."
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