UK-based Noble has agreed to acquire rival offshore drilling contractor Pacific Drilling, based in Luxembourg, in an all-stock deal.

As per the terms of the deal, Pacific Drilling’s shareholders will get 16.6 million shares of Noble, which translates to a stake of around 24.9% in the latter at closing.

Post-acquisition, Noble will have a fleet of 24 rigs, which include 11 drillships, one semisubmersible, and 12 jackups. The company will also have pro forma backlog of around $1.7bn, which will be divided across a range of customers and regions of operation.

The company claimed that the combined fleet will be among the youngest and most technologically advanced fleets in the sector.

Pacific Drilling CEO Bernie Wolford said: “Bringing together the Pacific Drilling and Noble fleets creates a stronger and more stable combined company with the scale to provide solutions for our clients on a global basis.

“This combination will advance the ongoing recovery in the industry and will allow Pacific Drilling equity holders to fully participate in that recovery.”

Noble anticipates the deal to help the company achieve at least $30m annual pre-tax cost synergies.

Apart from that, the offshore drilling contractor will look to expeditiously dispose of the Pacific Bora and Pacific Mistral drillships, which are among the seven drillships owned currently by Pacific Drilling.

Noble president and CEO Robert Eifler said: “The acquisition of Pacific Drilling will enhance our position in the ultra-deepwater market through the addition of its technologically-advanced ultra-deepwater drillships, which are highly complementary to Noble’s existing fleet.

“By bringing these modern drillships into the Noble fleet, we will be able to better serve the needs of our customers globally and to participate in a wider range of drillship tender activity.”

Eifler added that the acquisition enables the re-entry of Noble into the West African and Mexican regions, besides bolstering its footprint in the US Gulf of Mexico.

Subject to customary closing conditions, the deal is anticipated to be closed next month.