Noble Reports Third Quarter 2003 Results

Noble Corporation reported net income for the third quarter of 2003 of $53.0 million, or $0.40 per diluted share, on operating revenues of $254.6 million, compared to net income of $49.2 million, or $0.37 per diluted share, on operating revenues of $242.1 million for the third quarter of 2002. Net income for the nine months ended September 30, 2003 was $136.1 million, or $1.02 per diluted share, on operating revenues of $747.6 million, compared to net income of $158.0 million, or $1.18 per diluted share, on operating revenues of $737.4 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2002.

At September 30, 2003, the Company's consolidated balance sheet reflected $2.14 billion in shareholders' equity, $196.7 million in cash and marketable securities, and $622.7 million in total debt. Net cash provided by operating activities for the three and nine month periods ended September 30, 2003 was $108.8 million and $226.1 million, respectively. Capital expenditures for the third quarter of 2003 totaled $85.2 million, which included $58.1 million related to the previously announced exercise of options to purchase the Noble Gene House (formerly Trident 19) and the Noble Charlie Yester (formerly Trident 18).

James C. Day, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said, "We are witnessing the initial recovery in West African operations and anticipate this market firming over the next 24 months."

Offshore contract drilling services revenues from deepwater drilling units (capable of drilling in 4,000 feet or greater) accounted for approximately 39 percent and 31 percent of the Company's total offshore contract drilling services revenues for the third quarter of 2003 and 2002, respectively. The Company currently operates five deepwater semisubmersibles in the Gulf of Mexico and one deepwater semisubmersible and three deepwater drillships offshore Brazil. Offshore contract drilling services revenues from international sources accounted for approximately 72 percent and 67 percent of the Company's total offshore contract drilling services revenues for the third quarter of 2003 and 2002, respectively. Results for the third quarter of 2003 were adversely impacted by continued weak market conditions in certain international markets, primarily the North Sea and West Africa, partially offset by additional growth in Mexico. The average dayrate for the Company's international rigs was $58,110 in the third quarter of 2003 compared to $62,355 in the third quarter of 2002. Likewise, utilization on these rigs decreased from 92 percent in the third quarter of 2002 to 83 percent in the third quarter of 2003. However, the average dayrate and utilization on our deepwater assets in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico increased this quarter. The average dayrate on these units increased five percent to $124,607 in the third quarter of 2003, while utilization improved to 95 percent this quarter from 82 percent in the third quarter of last year. The average dayrate on the Company's domestic jackup rigs was $29,931 in the third quarter of 2003, or four percent lower than the same quarter of last year. Utilization on these units increased slightly to 95 percent in the third quarter of 2003 as compared to 93 percent in the third quarter of 2002. However, the Company had 554 fewer operating days for domestic jackup rigs during the third quarter of 2003 as compared to the same quarter of last year following the mobilization of seven premium jackup units out of this region to Mexico under long-term contracts since September 2002. Our premium jackups in Mexico had an average dayrate in the third quarter of 2003 of $49,732, or 66 percent higher than the average dayrate on our remaining premium jackups in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico for the recent quarter, with utilization of 98 percent.

Day said, "The assimilation of our recent rig acquisitions has proceeded smoothly. These units will be additive to earnings immediately."
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