Equipment Aids Safe, Fast HDD Pipeline Installation In Billings

June 2009 Vol. 64 No. 6
Mears' state-of-the-art vibratory sheet pile driver.

The only one of its kind in North America, the rig was built by Prime Drilling in Germany. This rig features a non-restricted mud course inlet and includes a unique sliding mandrel option. The drill frame has a tubular construction rather than the more typical I-beam configuration, making the drill frame stronger and more structurally sound. The carriage is equipped with a sophisticated bearing system with precise tolerances between the drill frame and carriage. Factoring safety into its fleet, Mears specifically required a pipe loader be incorporated in the design of this new rig.

The pipe loader eliminates the need for any manual assistance on the drilling rig and the associated possibility for errors during drill pipe loading and unloading operations. It allows the drill operator to maintain full control of the drill pipe while it is being loaded in to the rig. This produces safer work stations for the wire splicers during pilot hole operation while they connect the steering wire through the drill pipe. Equipped with a smart system, which is able to prevent any incorrect movement of the carriage during pipe loading operations and the pipe loader eliminates such hazardous situations.

The power plant that accompanies the new rig contains unique features. Weighing in at 78,000 pounds (which includes all components: tractor, trailer and power plant), the overall sound level of the entire set-up is half that of a similar-size rig. The unique sound suppression system keeps noise levels to a minimum during drilling operations.

“Acquiring a larger rig with the strength, precision and safety elements to keep complex and large projects on schedule was a key factor in the configuration of the design,” stated Karl Quackenbush, asset manager for the Mears Group. “When we acquired the rig, along with its pipe loader, we strategically selected the equipment components to optimize safety and be suited for complicated and large projects.”

In preparation for drilling operations, Mears used its new vibratory foundation driver that drove steel piles in front of the rig to provide solid anchorage. On this crossing, this state-of-the-art system installed the sheet piling in just 15 minutes. All the drilling operations, and in particular the pullback operations, benefited from this set-up that gave outstanding stability and holding capacity. Mears’ personnel believe the vibratory system for installing and removing the drilling rig’s anchors is not only more efficient than other more typical methods, but is infinitely safer and more controlled.