By Houston Business Journal

Noble Corp. has signed a letter of intent with Royal Dutch Shell Plc to move one of its deepwater rigs out of the Gulf of Mexico to Brazil.

The Switzerland-based offshore rig contractor, which has a large Houston presence, had 30 percent of its budget in the Gulf, David Williams, CEO, said in a Thursday conference call.

⿿We moved to preserve our backlog, and have elected to move some rigs out,⿝ he said. ⿿We believe all of the rigs will be back to work by May, and we are marketing rigs in other areas.⿝

At the end of 2010, Noble (NYSE: NE) was also hit with the cancellation of the Jim Day rig contract with Houston-based Marathon Oil Corp. (NYSE: MRO).

The deal with Shell involves moving the Clyde Boudreaux to Brazil for a year at a rate of $290,000 per day starting in mid-April, according to Roger Hunt, senior vice president for marketing and contracts.

⿿We expect to see additional units leave the Gulf region, which may at some point impact the broader deepwater market,⿝ Hunt said. ⿿However, the global deepwater segment has so far continued to be relatively stable.⿝

He added that the Jim Day rig was idle right now, but he expected the rig to be under contract soon.

Copyright 2011 American City Business Journals
Copyright 2010