Noble Corp has entered into a definitive merger agreement to acquire FDR Holdings Ltd (Frontier Drilling) in a cash transaction that values the enterprise at $2.16 billion. Frontier is an independent drilling company with three dynamically positioned drillships, two conventionally moored drillships, a conventionally moored deepwater semisubmersible and one dynamically positioned FPSO. The transaction is expected to close by the end of July 2010.
Noble has reached separate agreements with Shell, subject to the Frontier closing, that provide 10-year contracts for two ultra-deepwater drillships (one Globetrotter-class currently under construction and one additional newbuild) and a multi-year extension on the deepwater semisubmersible Noble Jim Thompson. These agreements add an estimated $4 billion in contract backlog over more than 25 rig years.
The Frontier fleet consists of:
• Two dynamically positioned ultra-deepwater Arctic-capable Bully-class drillships currently under construction. The drillships are each owned by a 50/50 joint venture between Frontier and Shell and will be operated by the respective joint venture under contracts with Shell. Bully I has a five-year contract, plus four additional one-year options at rates to be mutually agreed. Bully II has a 10-year contract. Both are expected to begin operations in 2011;
• The dynamically positioned deepwater drillship Frontier Phoenix is operating for Shell in Southeast Asia under a contract that extends through mid-2015;
• The fourth-generation moored deepwater semisubmersible Frontier Driller is under contract with Shell in the US Gulf of Mexico until Q2 2012;
• The moored 1,500-ft drillship Frontier Duchess is operating under contract for NPDC in Nigeria until Q3 2010;
• The moored 1,000-ft Arctic-class drillship Frontier Discoverer is under contract with Shell and likely to be deployed to Southeast Asia until Q3 2011 at a dayrate of $165,000; and
• The 6,500-ft dynamically positioned deepwater FPSO Frontier Seillean, with a production capacity of 24,000 bbl/day and storage of 300,000 bbl, is expected to soon begin a short-term contract of 100 days.