Frequent Challenges For Winter Ocean Drilling In Maine

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | June 2012, Vol. 67 No. 6

“The extreme tide cycles made moving 600 feet of 12-inch pipe into the ocean in January with heavy winds almost impossible,” said Kelly. “After several days of attempting to move the pipe with multiple large boats, we waited for a calm early morning and succeeded in moving the pipe into position and anchored it to the shore. Concrete weights had been attached to the pipe in the area where it was to rest on the ocean bottom. The pipe was flooded and air bags were attached to sink it to a neutral buoyancy position just above the bottom. Divers removed the drill bit and connected the backreamer and pipe behind it. Setting the turbidity curtains to keep silt and drill slurry from the ocean in such a tide cycle was also a challenge, but with the patience and experienced earthwork crews, ultimately we were successful.”

The pilot hole was enlarged and the product pulled in behind it in one pass.

“The soil had so much rock that we did not pre-ream the hole for fear of losing the shot,” said Kelly. “We gambled and utilized a new 18-inch Ditch Witch Kodiak reamer which performed flawlessly for the conditions.”

The installation was completed in less than 14 hours.

“The length of pipe was floated into the ocean and reached the final outlet point,” Kelly said. “The drill exit came out on the ocean floor and the remaining footage was placed directly on the ocean floor with concrete weights. The final portion from the drill entry was open cut back to the pump station.”

In its 17th year, “ETTI is primarily a directional drilling contractor, but also performs natural gas work for one of the local utility companies,” said Kelly. “We run two full-time drill crews, two natural gas crews, a shop/maintenance crew of two, a development crew working on a 50-acre parcel of land that will be a business park by the close of 2012, and an office staff of six.”

Kelly said the company has continued to grow throughout the current recession.