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Noble Corporation (NE - Analyst Report) announced changes in its drilling program for three deepwater rigs -- Ensco 5006, Transocean Sedco Express and Homer Ferrington. The company has all three rigs under contract in the offshore Eastern Mediterranean.

Ensco 5006, previously known as Pride North America and owned by Ensco Plc (ESV - Analyst Report), is employed in Leviathan 3. The rig has yet to generate revenue for the ongoing third quarter with multiple subsea equipment issues troubling it for weeks. Noble will now shift the rig from the site so that repairs can be made to its riser system.

After the repair work is over the rig will be employed in the Dolphin prospect on the Hanna license, offshore Israel.

Meanwhile, Transocean Sedco Express, presently drilling at Tamar field, will be shifted to the Leviathan 3 site to complete the drilling work left incomplete by Ensco 5006. Drilling two more exploration prospects is also on the cards of Transocean Sedco before it moves back to Tamar field to carry out completion work as it is on schedule for commissioning in late 2012.

Finally, Homer Ferrington − owned by Noble Corporation − recently completed drilling two wells at Noa, off Israel. It was very efficient as it completed the work two weeks ahead of schedule and well within budget. Completion work on these wells is slated to start in the first half of 2012.

Therefore, the rig has been moved to Block 12 offshore Cyprus and has started drilling the Cyprus A prospect. The rig will again be moved back to Israel once the drilling job is over in Cyprus A.

Noble holds a Zacks #3 Rank, which is equivalent to a Hold rating for a period of one to three months. For the long term, we maintain a Neutral rating on the stock.

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