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Noble Energy Inc. (NBL - Analyst Report) said it has chalked out a new drilling schedule for the three deepwater rigs drilling in the offshore Eastern Mediterranean, as its rig drilling at the Leviathan prospect needs repair. The company has reshuffled the drilling schedules of three rigs including Ensco Plc’s (ESV - Analyst Report) Ensco 5006 (formerly called the Pride North America), Transocean Ltd’s (RIG) Transocean Sedco Express and Noble Corporation’s (NE - Analyst Report) Homer Ferrington, to ensure smooth and timely drilling at its Leviathan and Tamar prospects.

Noble Energy said the Ensco 5006 rig, drilling at the Leviathan #3 well, has experienced multiple subsea equipment issues and will move away for repairs to its riser system. Following the repair work, the rig will move to drill the Dolphin prospect located on the Hanna license, offshore Israel. 

In place of the Ensco 5006, Noble Energy has now directed the Transocean Sedco Express to complete the drilling at the Leviathan #3 well. The Transocean Sedco Express is currently drilling at the Tamar. Following the Leviathan prospect, the rig is then scheduled to drill up to two more exploration prospects before returning to Tamar to finish development drilling and perform completion work.

Noble Energy assured that these changes in the drilling schedule of Sedco Express will not hinder the timing of the Tamar development, which is expected to start commissioning in late 2012.

Further, Noble Energy has planned to move the Noble Corporation Homer Ferrington rig to Block 12 offshore Cyprus, where it will drill the Cyprus A prospect.  On completion of the work at Cyprus A, the rig will relocate back to the Noa prospect, offshore Israel, for completion of operations, which are planned for the first half of 2012.

The rig had recently drilled two development wells in the Noa prospect. The drilling activities were completed two weeks ahead of schedule and within budget. 

Based in Houston, Texas, Noble Energy operates internationally and engages in the acquisition, exploration, development, production, and marketing of crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids. Noble Energy currently retains a Zacks #3 Rank (short-term Hold rating), which fully supports our long-term ‘Neutral’ recommendation on the stock.

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