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Noble Corporation Exercises Option to Acquire Jackup Unit

SUGAR LAND, Texas, July 16 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Noble Corporation (NYSE: NE) announced today that it exercised its option to purchase the premium jackup drilling unit, the Maersk Viking, from a subsidiary of A.P. Moeller for an exercise price of $32.9 million. As previously announced, in June of 2003 Noble paid an option fee of $15.0 million to the seller for the right to acquire the unit. Noble's aggregate purchase price for the MODEC 300C, independent leg, cantilever jackup is therefore $47.9 million. The Maersk Viking is currently in the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates being assimilated into our Middle East fleet which is now comprised of 12 units. The unit is scheduled to commence an 880-day contract in Qatar in mid September 2004 after an upgrade program. The unit has been renamed the Noble Cees van Diemen.

James C. Day, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Noble Corporation, said, "We are pleased to be able to exercise the option to purchase this unit, which will be an important contributor to our Middle East operations."

Noble Corporation is a leading provider of diversified services for the oil and gas industry. Contract drilling services are performed with the Company's fleet, which now stands at 59 modern mobile offshore drilling units located in key markets worldwide. This fleet consists of 13 semisubmersibles, three dynamically positioned drillships, 40 jackup rigs and three submersibles. Nine of the Company's units are capable of operating in harsh environments. In addition to the rigs in the fleet discussed above, the Company has also purchased one additional option to acquire the premium jackup, the Maersk Valiant. Approximately 80 percent of the fleet is currently deployed in international markets, principally including the Middle East, Mexico, Brazil, the North Sea, West Africa, India, and the Mediterranean Sea. The Company provides technologically advanced drilling-related products and services designed to create value for our customers. The Company also provides labor contract drilling services, well site and project management services, and engineering services. The Company's ordinary shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "NE".

This news release may contain "forward-looking statements" about the business, financial performance and prospects of the Company. Statements about the Company's or management's plans, intentions, expectations, beliefs, estimates, predictions, or similar expressions for the future are forward- looking statements. No assurance can be given that the outcomes of these forward-looking statements will be realized, and actual results could differ materially from those expressed as a result of various factors. A discussion of these factors, including risks and uncertainties, is set forth from time to time in the Company's filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Additional information on Noble Corporation is available via the worldwide web at .

SOURCE  Noble Corporation
    -0-                             07/16/2004
    /CONTACT:  John T. Rynd, Vice President-Investor Relations, Noble Drilling
Services Inc. of Noble Corporation, +1-281-276-6100/
    /Web site: /

CO:  Noble Corporation; A.P. Moeller
ST:  Texas

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9113 07/16/2004 11:47 EDT