Gas Distribution Drilling In Steep Grades

February 2013, Vol. 68 No. 2


“Most drill units can drill through rock, but steering the drill head is the key,” Alderman said. “The AT units really do a sweet job of drilling and being guided through rock formations.”

Alderman said G & W’s rock drilling capabilities have brought business from other contractors, as well as turnkey jobs in which the company makes pipe installations and connections. “Our drills are busy most of the time,” he added.

Steep drilling
A recent example of the company’s rock drilling capabilities is installation of a gas distribution line in Prestonsburg, KY. The job required installation of 5,000 feet of eight-inch diameter steel gas pipe. Most of the job was on a state highway and railroad right-of-way. The JT100 AT was used for the project.

“The area was very mountainous,” said Alderman. “At times, the drill had to be winched up the side of a hill to the set-up spot.”

Six bores were made, ranging in length from 200 to 1,362 feet. Drill operator Alex Wells said the longest was the most difficult.

“In this area there’s most every type of rock,” said Wells. “We set up at the low end of the bore, crossed under CSX railroad tracks and the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River and up to the exit point which was 375-feet higher than the entry. In some places the slope was so steep we put a rope on the locate man so he could follow the bore path. We had to go to a depth of 62 feet under the railroad tracks.”

That the JT100 AT could make the installation without a mud motor is a big advantage when crossing railroad tracks and highways because the large volume of drilling fluid required to run a mud motor increases the risk of a frac out.

Wells said the JT100 AT was pumping about 25 gallons per minute (gpm) of fluid on the job, while a mud motor likely would be using 250 gpm.

After the pilot bore was completed, it was pre reamed, and the drill unit was moved to the exit point to pull in the welded string of pipe.

“The pipe weighed 55,000 pounds, and we were pulling uphill,” said Wells. “Some wondered if it could be done, but the pull-in went smoothly.”

G & W Construction, (606) 784-2396
Ditch Witch, (800) 654-6481,

Utility Construction And Racing

For many years, Darrell Alderman managed both his busy utility construction business, G & W Construction, while competing as a professional race car driver.

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