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Debunking Myths About Horizontal Directional Drilling  

Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) was first created for oil and gas lines in the 1960s, but it has since expanded to transform complex water crossings for pipelines that were originally completed using traditional dredging methods or rerouted over great distances.

After nearly six decades and a slew of innovations, the trenchless construction industry is predicted to reach $14.95 billion by 2022, and underground projects, in general, are expected to grow. Although these developments have a wide range of applications and are proven to be beneficial in construction projects, there are still a few unfounded misconceptions surrounding the hdd drilling practice such as:

It Is Not Necessary To Measure Utilities; They Can Be Estimated.

This is a big no. Even if a group of contractors is very familiar with the area they’re working in, it’s always critical to measure utilities correctly. Some contractors believe they can just dig deeper to avoid drilling into power lines, but this is just not a reasonable assumption. Before the project starts, the only way to know for sure is to measure and survey the land.

It’s Enough To Just Show The Utility’s Depth. 

This is yet another fallacy that can add time and money to a project’s completion while also jeopardizing safety. In reality, exposing simply to the depth of the utility is rarely enough to safely complete the project. Experts recommend that you expose to the depth of the intended bore path at all times.

There Are No Current Utilities In The Region If There Are No Location Markings.

There’s only one simple but definite method to tell for sure, and that is to double-check. The lack of markers does not necessarily imply that there are no underground utilities existing in the vicinity. It’s possible that the utility is yet to be discovered. Thus, it’s crucial to verify and check the area before commencing a drilling project.

It’s Ok If The Drilling Fluid And The Soil Don’t Match.

Different soil types and conditions necessitate different additives and water combinations. PHPA (Partially-Hydrolyzed Polyacrylamide) polymers, rather than bentonite, are beneficial in clay-type soils. The PHPA polymers prevent the ground clay from expanding and compromising borehole integrity.

In areas with more sandy soil, bentonite should be added to the drilling fluid. Bentonite aids in filtering, while a larger, heavier molecular polymer is beneficial in locations with rocky soil. The bigger polymer size functions as a suspending agent, allowing the borehole to remain stable.

Soil testing provides information about the composition of the ground in the drilling area. The drill manual can be used to ensure that mud mixers make a drilling fluid mix that is appropriate for the soil structure.

Reclamation Process for Drilling Fluid Isn’t Required.

A reclamation process is required for all drilling fluids. Failure to do so is a costly and environmentally risky mistake for the drilling company.

Most firms utilize above-ground recirculating/recycling systems since most drilling mud contains additives coupled with water to shore up the borehole, convey cuttings, and cool the drilling equipment. The recirculating system eliminates all cuttings while retaining a large portion of the drilling fluid.

Also, leaving fluid mix to soak into the ground can be hazardous and may contaminate the groundwater. Solid waste may remain in the fluid if the reclamation systems are not properly maintained, rendering it unfit for use. As such, the reclamation process should not be compromised.

Final Thoughts

Learning about hdd drilling misconceptions and the facts that disprove them might help you understand what you should do before starting an underground or drilling project. If you’re a horizontal directional drilling contractor, you should be aware of the myths and use the facts as guidance for a safe, productive, and risk-free operation.