) announced that it is working on fixing problems with the
drillship Noble Discoverer, identified by the US Coast Guard in
an inspection, as well as other potential issues the company
found in an internal appraisal.
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The U.S. Coast Guard alleged that several components and systems
aboard the company's drillship require attention. The ship's
propulsion and safety management systems were the main concerns.
Noble also found some other potential regulatory non-compliance
problems associated with its operations, comprising likely
unlawful collected water disposals taking place outside the
period of drilling operations.
Noble intends to equip the ship prior to the Arctic drilling
season that commences in June 2013. The company has already
worked out numerous problems with the Noble Discoverer recognized
by the Coast Guard. Currently, the ship is being moved to the
shipyard and the remaining items will be resolved in course of
the prior scheduled shipyard stay in Washington.
The current customer of Noble Discoverer -
Royal Dutch Shell
) - and Noble, along with the Coast Guard are assessing the
drillship's operations in Alaska as well as the impact of the
2012 Arctic operating conditions. These assessments are likely to
assist the companies in increasing the promptness of the
drillship and other drilling assets for 2013.
Moreover, Noble is designing an improved plan to make sure that
its drilling rigs and their allied management procedures are in
conformity with applicable maritime laws and leading industry
practices. Noble has not made any commitments with respect to the
timing, impact or result of the Coast Guard examination or its
own appraisal into these regulatory matters.
Noble holds a Zacks #3 Rank, which is equivalent to a Hold rating
for a period of one to three months. Longer term, we maintain our
Neutral recommendation for the stock.