ZUG, Switzerland, May 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Noble Corporation (NYSE: NE) today announced that the Company has been awarded a drilling contract by Statoil for a newbuild ultra-high specification jackup for use in the United Kingdom sector of the North Sea. The initial contract is for four years and is anticipated to commence during the third quarter of 2016. The total estimated value of the four year primary term contract is USD $655 million, including mobilization. The ultra-high specification jackup is an enhanced version of Statoil's "Cat J" specifications and will be designed to operate in water depths of up to 150 meters (492 feet) in harsh environment conditions, with a maximum total drilling depth capacity of 10,000 meters (approximately 33,000 feet). The award was made by Statoil as the operator of the Mariner project, which is located on the East Shetland Platform of the UK North Sea approximately 150 kilometers east of the Shetland Isles. Statoil's partners in the Mariner project are JX Nippon Exploration and Production (U.K.) Limited and Cairn Energy PLC. The rig will be equipped for operations in harsh environments and capable of deploying either a surface or subsea blowout preventer when drilling wells in these challenging environments. Noble is in the final stages of negotiating a contract for the construction of the new jackup and expects delivered costs to be approximately $690 million, including project management, spares and start-up costs, but excluding capitalized interest. "We believe that the fundamentals of the high-specification jackup market segment will continue to be strong in the decade ahead," said David W. Williams, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Noble Corporation. "This unit is designed to meet some of the industry's most stringent operating requirements and supports Noble's ongoing commitment to increasing the technological and operational capabilities of our fleet. Furthermore, constructing this unit for use on a sanctioned project reduces our risk and enhances future shareholder value. We are particularly pleased at the opportunity of expanding our operation in the UK sector of the North Sea." The rig will be based on the proven Gusto MSC CJ-70-150 design, with enhancements that include a number of features that are designed to further improve the rig's operating capability. The rig was designed to optimize HSE focus and is uniquely suited for operations over a very large platform or in a subsea configuration in water depths of up to 150 meters in the Norwegian sector. Once delivered, it will be one of the most versatile jackup rigs in the industry.