Noble Corp. Merges with Pacific Drilling

noble corp
File image courtesy Noble Corp.

Published Mar 25, 2021 8:54 PM by The Maritime Executive

Offshore drilling contractor Noble Corporation has agreed to acquire competitor Pacific Drilling in an all-stock transaction, the companies announced Thursday. Both firms have recently shed debt and restructured their balance sheets through Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

 “The acquisition of Pacific Drilling will enhance our position in the ultra-deepwater market through the addition of its technologically-advanced ultra-deepwater drillships," said Noble's president and CEO, Robert Eifler. "The combination brings together two companies who share a common culture prioritizing safety and operational excellence."

The purchase also gives Noble a renewed foothold in West Africa and the Mexican GoM, as well as a boost for its current footprint in the U.S. Gulf. As Noble's fleet is fully contracted at present, the access to Pacific's extra drillships will allow it to continue bidding on new tenders as the market enters a recovery phase.

“Bringing together the Pacific Drilling and Noble fleets creates a stronger and more stable combined company with the scale to provide solutions for our clients on a global basis," said Pacific Drilling CEO Bernie Wolford. "This combination will advance the ongoing recovery in the industry and will allow Pacific Drilling equity holders to fully participate in that recovery."

The firms said that there are logistical advantages to uniting their operations as well: both firms have used equipment from the same OEMs for engines, thrusters, well control and drilling equipment, which means that the two fleets will be easier to integrate. 

Noble expects to save about $30 million a year in pre-tax synergies, with the full amount realized by the end of this year. 

Once the merger is finalized, Noble will have one of the largest and most modern drilling fleets in the world, with 11 drillships, one semi-sub and 12 jack-ups. The firm says that it will move quickly to dispose of two Pacific vessels, Pacific Bora and Pacific Mistral.