HDD Evolves To Match New Market Dynamics

16th Annual Horizontal Directional Drilling Survey
By Robert Carpenter, Editor | June 2014, Vol. 69, No. 6

It’s a big, new world. At least big in terms of horizontal directional drilling rigs (HDD).

Contractors – and even owners – continue to increase the size of their rig fleet both in terms of actual physical size and number of units as project requirements become more demanding and key markets continue to display long-term health.

This information and much more are detailed in the 16th Annual Underground Construction 2014 HDD Survey of the U.S. market. This exclusive industry research was conducted during March and April. Surveys were sent via both U.S. Postal Service and email to contractors and organizations that actively own and operate HDD drilling units. The number of completed surveys allowed for an accurate statistical portrayal of the market. Survey responses came from all 50 states plus Puerto Rico.

“We believe this market will be a driving force in underground construction going forward, often in lieu of open-cut construction,” stressed this West Coast contractor. “It’s growing exponentially,” a Southwest contractor agreed.
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Another western states respondent pointed out that “there are plenty of opportunities with existing pipelines approaching the end of their service life.” Gushed an upper Midwest contractor, “It’s great!”

But caution was not lost for many of the more experienced HDD contractors who survived the telecom boom and bust at the turn of the century. “For us, it all depends on what the telecommunication companies do,” said a Midwest respondent. A Southeast contractor in the electric market sees HDD leveling out in that niche. “We see it reaching a plateau and expect a slight increase over the next five years.”

But predicting the future of construction markets is an inexact endeavor at best. As one veteran Texas contractor observed: “It's a roller-coaster – who knows?”

Energy drives work