Rigonomics: With Low Rates, HDD Rig Selection Is Critical

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | June 2010 Vol. 65 No. 6

Rigonomics: [n.] efficiently and effectively conducting HDD operations to ensure maximum profits
Plan the work, work the plan -- good advice no matter what the job. On construction projects, failure to properly follow that simple advice can result in lost and wasted time, costly errors and accidents.

Several months ago, Jim Agnew and Danny Crumpton of Houston-based Inrock, were discussing the range of problems they have encountered in serving their clients on horizontal directional drilling projects. Many were the result of lack of planning or deviating from the project plan after construction was under way.

The Inrock group thought the topic could be a worthwhile session at the annual UCT Show (Underground Construction Technology International Conference & Exposition). With input and encouragement from customers, Crumpton and Agnew began development of a program that ultimately became the “Rigonomics” session at the 2010 UCT show in Tampa.

“We recognized the key to making the program interesting and beneficial was interaction among those attending,” said Crumpton. “We decided not to use a PowerPoint presentation, but to develop content that would stimulate interest and allow maximum interaction for sharing the knowledge and experience of all participants.”

The concept worked. “We went three hours with three breaks,” Crumpton said. “We felt a high level of interest was sustained throughout and received very favorable comments from those attending.”

In discussing on-the-job problems, it was clear many problems were the result of shortcuts to save time which ended up causing delays. Delays equal lost time which results in lost revenue.

As directional drilling has matured and drill operators have gained experience, it can be tempting to skip or alter basic steps.

No shortcuts
“The value of knowledge and experience is diminished when personnel convince themselves they know enough to take shortcuts,” Crumpton observed.

“An example is a failure to maintain redundancy in a basic tool such as a crossover sub,” he said. “If a crossover sub is damaged and another one is not available, the rig is down until another sub can be brought to the job site. How costly was a $395 or even a $1,200 sub compared to a day of down time? For a rig costing $5,000 per day, that is not good economics.”

Rigonomics topics included selecting the right size drill rig for each job, drilling the pilot hole, backreaming, proper drilling fluid properties, operations of mud motors, transportation of equipment, downtime and dealing with unforeseen problems.