Noble Corporation (NYSE:NE) has a large fleet of offshore drilling rigs ready to assist in the global exploration and development of oil and gas resources. The company is also in the midst of an aggressive new build program to satisfy future demand by the industry.

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Rig Summary
Noble has a fleet of 76 offshore rigs composed of semi submersibles, jack ups and drill ships. The company also has a platform rig and one floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) unit.

Noble reports the company's contract backlog at $13.1 billion as of March 2011. This includes the company's existing rig fleet and new builds scheduled to come on line. Noble reported that as of March, approximately 64% of available 2011 rig operating days were committed for the balance of 2011 and 33% were committed in 2012. Transocean (NYSE:RIG) is the only rig company with a larger contract backlog at $24.4 billion.

New Construction
Noble has 11 units under construction, consisting of four jack up rigs and seven drill ships. The company also has an option to build three other rigs after 2014.

Jack Up Construction
Noble is building four high specification JU3000N class jack up rigs that can work in up to 400 feet of water and drill to a depth of 35,000 feet. The four rigs are scheduled to be delivered in 2012 and 2014.

Another offshore company that is building jack up rigs is Ensco (NYSE:ESV), which recently contracted with Keppel FELS Limited to build two harsh environment jack up rigs for delivery in 2013.

Drill Ships
Noble will also finish construction of three deepwater drill ships in 2011. The Noble Bully I and Noble Bully II were acquired by Noble in 2010 when the company purchased Frontier Drilling, a privately owned drilling company. These two drill ships are jointly owned by Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.A) and subject to multiyear contracts with that operator.

Royal Dutch Shell also has the Noble Globetrotter, the company's third new deepwater drillship under contract. This rig will be delivered in the second half of 2011. The company also has the Noble Globetrotter II scheduled to be delivered in 2013.

The final part of Noble's new build program consists of three ultra deepwater drill ships, with the units scheduled to be delivered in 2014. These rigs cost approximately $615 million each and are being built by Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Ltd.

Contract Status
Noble reported in the company's latest fleet status report that all four jack ups rigs are currently without contracts. The company has contracts on five of its seven new build drill ships, with two of the ultra deepwater drill ships being built by Hyundai currently without contracts.

The Bottom Line
Noble has a fleet of offshore jack up and deepwater rigs to find oil and gas across the world and the company has an 11 rig new build program to meet anticipated future need for rig capacity. (For related reading, take a look at A Guide To Investing In Oil Markets.)

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