Noble announced an update on the status of its U.S. Gulf of Mexico deepwater offshore drilling units. The Company's existing deepwater Gulf of Mexico units include the Noble Amos Runner, Noble Danny Adkins, Noble Clyde Boudreaux, Noble Jim Thompson, Noble Lorris Bouzigard and Noble Paul Romano.
The Company has been advised by one of its customers, Anadarko, that they believe the drilling moratorium enacted by the U.S. Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service is a force majeure event under their contract on the Noble Amos Runner. The Company believes that Anadarko will attempt to terminate the contract by claiming a force majeure event. In response, the Company has advised Anadarko that it does not believe that the moratorium constitutes force majeure. The Company's drilling units, including the Noble Amos Runner, are ready and able to drill and Anadarko is not prevented from using the unit on a variety of activities permissible under the contract, the moratorium or otherwise in their deep and diverse portfolio of international properties.
To date, the Company has not received any other contractual notifications from customers attempting to declare a force majeure event under their respective contracts. The Company does not believe that a force majeure event exists as a result of the moratorium or the oil spill, and, while the Company is working closely with its customers, it plans to enforce its contractual rights.
"Noble continues to work closely with customers to identify opportunities to continue operations that are allowable under the current deepwater drilling moratorium or relocate the units outside of the U.S., as is customarily done with deepwater units," said David W. Williams, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Noble Corporation. "These units and the more than 1,000 individuals that operate and support them have exemplary safety and environmental records. Our goal is to minimize the impact of the moratorium on our shareholders and our team members – who are among the best trained, safest and most experienced in the industry."
The Company's contracts with its customers covering Gulf of Mexico rigs include force majeure provisions allowing for termination in the event a proper force majeure event continues for a defined period. In the event of an actual force majeure event, as determined under the applicable drilling contract, these agreements generally allow for a period of 15 to 30 days during which the unit will earn a force majeure rate of between 80 percent and 100 percent of the contracted dayrate. Following these periods and in some cases subject to a short notice period, either Noble or the customer has the option to terminate the contract.
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