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SONAT OFFSHORE DRILLING ANNOUNCES LETTER OF INTENT WITH WILH. WILHELMSEN FOR PURCHASE OF FOURTH-GENERATION SEMISUBMERSIBLE POLAR PIONEER

 HOUSTON, Oct. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Sonat Offshore Drilling Inc. (NYSE: RIG) announced today it intends to acquire a 100 percent interest in the fourth-generation semisubmersible Polar Pioneer. The Polar Pioneer is presently owned by a Norwegian partnership in which Sonat Offshore Drilling has a 47-1/2 percent interest.
 A letter of intent has been signed with Wilh. Wilhelmsen Ltd. A/S, the other major participant in the partnership, which provides for Sonat Offshore Drilling to acquire Wilh. Wilhelmsen's 47-1/2 percent interest in the rig for
$40.4 million and future limited contingent consideration. Consummation of the purchase from Wilh. Wilhelmsen is subject to certain contingencies including finalization of the agreement of sale.
 Sonat Offshore Drilling intends to enter negotiations with North Norway Drilling Company A/S to purchase the remaining 5 percent interest in the rig. Up to $30 million of the purchase price is expected to be funded under a new borrowing facility that Sonat Offshore Drilling is currently arranging.
 The Polar Pioneer is the first fourth-generation semisubmersible rig ever built and has worked continuously for Norsk Hydro in Norway since its delivery in 1985. The rig will begin a long-term contract for Norsk Hydro's Troll development project in February 1994. Wilh. Wilhelmsen will continue to provide cooperative services through 1996. This acquisition represents a significant step in Sonat Offshore Drilling's continuing strategy to focus on the harsh-environment and technically demanding segments of the offshore drilling industry.
 Sonat Offshore Drilling is a worldwide offshore drilling company engaged in contract drilling of oil and gas wells. Headquartered in Houston, the company has set deep-water drilling records and is recognized as an industry leader in deep-water, harsh-environment and turnkey drilling.
 -0- 10/13/93
 /CONTACT: A. Laine Powell of Sonat Offshore Drilling, 713-871-7500/
 (RIG)


CO: Sonat Offshore Drilling Inc.; Wilh. Wilhelmsen Ltd. ST: Texas IN: OIL SU: PER

RA -- AT012 -- 1691 10/13/93 12:47 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 13, 1993
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