U.S. Markets open in 3 hrs 13 mins

Noble inks contracts for pair of drill ships

NEW YORK (AP) -- Noble Corp. announced a pair of three-year drilling contracts with Plains Exploration & Production Co. for two of its ultra-deep water drill ships currently under construction.

The drill ships, which are being built at the Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Ltd. shipyard in South Korea, are expected to be used mainly for operations in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. A total of four drill ships are currently being built for Noble at the shipyard.

The Swiss drilling contractor said Thursday that the first drillship is expected to be delivered in the second quarter of 2014, with the second expected in second half of the year. The drilling contracts are expected to begin after the drill ships are brought to the Gulf of Mexico and accepted by the customer.

About $693 million in revenue per rig is expected to be generated over the three-year terms, representing more than $1.3 billion in total potential backlog, the company said.

Noble shares rose $1.40, or 4 percent, to $36.35 in afternoon trading.