During summer 2005, CCD Energy Services began to evaluate alternative HDD methods for the installation of oil and gas pipelines in environmentally sensitive areas. When we began our study, the only method for rock boring involved the use of a mud motor and the related risks associated with an uncontrolled release of drilling fluid.
CCD Energy Services recognized the need to find a better solution for HDD rock drilling that mitigated the environmental risks. Since then, we have developed and implemented a series of processes and procedures that meet our environmental goals. Of the various procedures that have been developed, the most significant improvement incorporates the use of a compressed air-driven percussion hammer to bore through rock formations. Our experience to date has shown that our air drilling methods greatly reduces the environmental risk when attempting difficult and highly fractured rock bores.
Air drilling uses large volumes of air instead of large volumes of drilling mud to power the drill head and to extract the cuttings. Using air instead of drilling mud eliminates the severity of a frac-out. If a frac occurs with air, the containment can often be done with a shovel and a few sand bags.
Drills which encounter combinations of soft and hard formation, with the related loss of circulation, greatly lend themselves to air drilling.
CCD Energy Services recently completed two environmentally sensitive crossings across the West Kiskatinaw River near Dawson Creek in British Columbia, Canada. These crossings provided the opportunity to demonstrate our air drilling techniques. Some of the numerous challenges included: limited access, shortened bore length, shallow no-drill zone, extreme cold weather, and three quarters of the bore length required accurate steering. In addition, the bore encountered combinations of clay, sandstone, shale layers and a hydraulic aquifer connection to the river. During the drill, we were constantly monitoring the river since the drill path went under a trout spawning area and was the water supply for Dawson Creek. We had visits from Department of Fisheries and Ocean, Oil and Gas Commission and B.C. Ministry of the Environment. Since air drilling is new to these regulatory agencies we were under the highest scrutiny.
We completed the project with great success and now have the endorsement of all these government agencies in regards to environmental air drilling.
Article originally published in Trenchless Technology magazine
Filed Under: Success Stories | General
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