UAE-based offshore drilling contractor Shelf Drilling ’s subsidiary Shelf Drilling (North Sea) has agreed to acquire five jack-up rigs from UK-based Noble for $375m in cash.

With the sale, Nobel expects to address the potential concerns raised by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in its Phase I review pertaining to the proposed merger between Nobel and Maersk Drilling, that was announced in November 2021.

In April 2022, the UK competition watchdog determined that the merger of Nobel and Maersk Drilling could result in increased operating costs and lower quality services in the North Sea for oil and gas producers.

To address the concerns, Noble will sell five jack-up rigs and related support and infrastructure to Shelf Drilling (North Sea) (SDNS).

The drilling rigs considered for sale include Noble Hans Deul, Noble Sam Hartley, Noble Sam Turner, Noble Houston Colbert, and Noble Lloyd Noble.

Upon completion of the deal, the associated offshore and onshore employees will be transferred with the rigs.

Noble will continue to undertake current drilling programmes with the Noble Lloyd Noble rig as part of a bareboat charter arrangement signed with Shelf Drilling, until the second quarter of 2023.

Drilling contracts for the other rigs are expected to be transferred from Noble subsidiaries to Shelf Drilling. This is subject to securing consent from each counterparty.

Planned to be closed in September 2022, the rig sale deal is subject to the approval of the UK CMA.

In connection with the merger plan, Noble is set to launch the planned exchange offer for Maersk Drilling’ shares in August 2022.