HDD Work In The Eagle Ford Shale Region

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | November 2013, Vol. 68 No. 11

“This equipment is well suited for the energy work we do in South Texas,” Simon says. “This is a booming area with smaller drills being used to extend utilities to new motels, businesses established to serve the pipeline work, and new housing. We have smaller rigs and do utility work, but most of those jobs are going to local contractors.”

Adtech 6 3/4-inch size mud motors are used to drill pilot holes. Support equipment includes fluid recyclers, frac tanks and vacuum trucks.

Water and other challenges

Directional drilling in the Eagle Ford shale fields has its challenges.

“HDD has to have water,” says Simon, “and that means trucking in in – sometimes from long distances – or paying local landowners for use of their water; a big difference from working in cities and towns where you just fill up from a fire plug. There are times that water has a big impact on our job costs. We recycle fluids, but it’s still more expense than typical drilling work, a major cost of a project.”

All personnel working in the area – not just HDD crews – face several common challenges.

“Ticks seem to be everywhere,” says Simon. “Work areas are sprayed down before we arrive, during drilling and pullback, and everything has to be sprayed again after we leave the area.

“Crews have to be paid for out time, travel and living expenses. It is difficult to find motel rooms, and when they are available, prices are double what they would be somewhere else. Camps have been set up, bunking six to a room. It’s not the best situation, but sometimes it’s the only option.”


Ranger has been working in Eagle Ford for four years. Typical of energy-related work is a recent project in Helena, TX, installing approximately 2,900 feet of eight-inch steel pipe. Access was through landowners’ field roads with mobilization and set-up requiring two days. The pilot hole was drilled in three days, three days were required to weld pipe, and three days were needed for backreaming and pullback. Demobilization required another two days.

A water line job at Carizo Springs, TX, was to install 2,500 feet of 18-inch diameter HDPE pipe. It required three days for mobilization and set up, three days to drill a pilot hole, three days to fuse pipe, five days for backreaming and pullback and two days for demobilization.

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