Offshore driller Noble Corporation slipped further into the red during the fourth quarter of 2018 as its revenues dropped when compared to the same period in 2017.
Noble Corp. on Wednesday reported a net loss attributable to the company for the fourth quarter 2018 of $33 million on revenues of $310 million. In the same period of 2017, Noble’s loss was $25 million on revenues of $330 million.
For the twelve months ended December 31, 2018, Noble Corporation reported a net loss attributable to the company of $885 million on revenues of $1.1 billion.
Julie J. Robertson, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Noble Corporation, noted, “While 2018 was another challenging year, Noble set a second consecutive annual record for operational performance, registering 97.3 percent uptime across the fleet, while again establishing record metrics for safety. We achieved these important milestones while experiencing steady improvement in fleet activity, with utilization of both our floating and jack-up fleets completing the fourth quarter of 2018 at their highest levels for the year.
“Also, we completed reactivation projects during the year on three floating units and a jack-up, with a reactivation project on a fourth floating unit in progress as the year concluded.”
Contract drilling services revenues for the fourth quarter of 2018 totaled $292 million, a nine percent improvement when compared to revenues of $267 million in the preceding quarter of 2018.
According to Noble, the growth in revenues was driven largely by higher fleet activity, led by the floating rig fleet where operating days improved 23 percent from the previous quarter. Also, revenues were supported by a reduction in fleet downtime, which declined to 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter (97.9 percent uptime) compared to fleet downtime of 5.2 percent in the preceding quarter of 2018.
The improvement in fleet operating days drove total fleet utilization in the fourth quarter to 75 percent, the highest level experienced in 2018. The measure was up from 69 percent in the preceding quarter of 2018.
Contract drilling services costs for the fourth quarter of 2018 increased 10 percent to $179 million compared to $163 million in the preceding quarter of 2018. The increase was due largely to higher fleet activity. Reactivation costs associated with the drillship Noble Sam Croft and other measures directed at elevating overall fleet readiness also contributed to the increase in costs.
Utilization in the fourth quarter of the company’s floating rig fleet, consisting of eight drillships and four semi-submersibles, improved to 56 percent compared to 45 percent in the previous quarter of 2018, and 37 percent in the first quarter of 2018, which represented the lowest utilization measure for the floating fleet during the year.
Utilization in the fourth quarter of the company’s jack-up fleet, comprised of 12 active units, was 94 percent compared to 93 percent in the preceding quarter of 2018, and 56 percent in the first quarter, which represented the lowest measure in 2018.
At December 31, 2018, the company’s contract backlog was $2.4 billion, with an estimated $1.5 billion related to the floating rig fleet and $926 million to the jack-up fleet.
Looking ahead, Robertson highlighted the strong geographic alignment of the Noble fleet and its positive implications for 2019.
She stated, “As we commence the new year, 85 percent of our jack-up fleet is, or will soon be operating in the North Sea and Middle East, two outstanding regions when we consider prospects for incremental jack-up demand. Also, we expect to benefit from the presence of our floating rigs in the Western Hemisphere, where increased levels of exploration and growing customer activity are expected to drive additional rig needs, as demonstrated by the recent one-year contract award for the Noble Tom Madden offshore Guyana.”