Jan 23 Noble Corp, owner of the world's
third-largest offshore drilling fleet, on Wednesday reported a
lower-than-expected quarterly profit as it struggled with
maintenance for five high-end rigs, even as worldwide demand
grew for such units.
Fourth-quarter net profit was $128 million, or 50 cents per
share, compared with $127 million, or 50 cents per share, a year
earlier, though revenue grew by 29 percent to $966 million.
Analysts, on average, had expected a profit of 61 cents per
share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Chief Executive David Williams said the "inconsistent
operating performance" was due mainly to five rigs that just
emerged from the shipyard last year, and yet accounted for a
third of the downtime days last quarter. Three of them were
brand-new rigs, while the other two had been retrofitted.
"Initial operations on these five rigs have not been as
seamless as we had hoped, particularly with respect to certain
critical components," Williams said in a statement.
Across the fleet, average rig utilization improved, rising
to 83 percent from 79 percent a year earlier, though the figure
for its deepwater semisubmersibles declined to 85 percent from
The outlook for offshore drilling in general, however,
"We continue to see strong customer demand across all the
regions in which we operate and are fortunate to have
technologically advanced drilling units to offer clients as they
plan exploration and production spending beyond 2013," Williams