Large Rig Market Profiles: Carving A Niche In Rock

H&H Enterprises Focuses On Work In Difficult Soils
By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | January 2013, Vol. 68, No. 1

Editor’s Note: Large directional drilling, largely due to the strong shale oil and gas market, has experienced a major boom in popularity. This is the second article in an occasional series profiling the contractors tackling this rewarding – yet extremely challenging – large rig market.

Ohio-based H&H Enterprises is a directional drilling contractor specializing in making difficult installations, most of them in hard rock.

These days, much of the company’s work is in energy shale fields of the Northeastern United States, making road, river and stream crossings on segments of pipeline routes where open-cut construction is not feasible or practical, says Jason Hockran, H&H vice-president/owner.

H&H crews operate two American Auger drill units, each with 200,000-pounds of pullback, and one 90,000-pound machine rebuilt to custom specifications by Underground Professionals Inc.

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“Ninety-nine percent of our drilling is in rock,” says Hockran. “By choice, we do very little dirt work. We have positioned ourselves in a niche market to do installations that are beyond the capabilities of many drillers. Contractors working in the Northeast U.S., where most of our projects are located, must understand and be prepared for difficult geological formations, or they will be in trouble.”

Established in 1994, H&H started out primarily doing directional drilling for telecommunications work using 24,000-pound pullback equipment. However, before the 2000 telecom bust, the company had made a transition to natural gas, water and sewer pipeline construction.

“We had two 60,000-pound machines and saw HDD beginning to be applied to the public utilities market, also including gas,” Hockran explains. “The change from telecom was more a business decision to expand to other areas, than anticipating the sudden drop in telecom construction. Our business model is to be adaptable and apply what we know to market demands and effectively manage and control our operations.”

The transition away from telecom and installing larger-diameter product put H&H in an excellent position to be a part of the construction boom in the energy shale fields in the Northeastern United States.

Energy pipeline construction in the Northeast is more complicated than in other parts of the country, Hockran observes.

Jason Hockran