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Noble Corp. Orders Two Drillships for $1.21 Billion

Noble Corp., owner of the world’s second-largest fleet of offshore drilling rigs, ordered two more ultra-deepwater drillships to be built by Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Ltd. for a total of $1.21 billion.

The rigs, the industry’s most expensive because they’re capable of drilling in water more than 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) deep, are expected to be delivered from the Korean shipyard in the second and fourth quarters of 2013, the Geneva-based driller said today in a statement.

Rig owners around the world including Seadrill Ltd. and Pride International Inc. have commissioned more than 20 deep-water and shallow-water vessels to be built since an explosion at BP Plc’s Gulf of Mexico well in April caused the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Drillers have ordered rigs in an effort to take advantage of low shipyard costs and demand for new drillships, according to an investor note today from a team of analysts including Joe Hill at Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. in Houston. “Our view is that while dayrates may not decline meaningfully, the recent slug of newbuilds certainly puts a cap on upside potential.”

Royal Dutch Shell Plc has already contracted one of the rigs for five-and-a-half years at a rate of $410,000 a day, Noble said on Jan. 17. The other isn’t yet contracted. Noble is waiting for six other offshore rigs to be built by about the end of 2013. Noble has the option to order two additional drillships from Hyundai by May for 2014 delivery at a fixed price, it said today.

Noble fell 51 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $37.56 at 10:44 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares, which have 19 buy ratings from analysts, 19 holds and three sells, have climbed 6 percent this year before today.

Transocean Ltd., based in Vernier, Switzerland, owns the world’s largest fleet of offshore drilling rigs.

-Editors: Jessica Resnick-Ault,Tina Davis

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