Successfully Conquering Challenging Drilling Projects

Big Bore Directional Drilling
Written by Leon Bracey

Hard-rock drilling is a challenge that many drilling companies simply do not face, but it is one that Big Bore Directional Drilling face head-on. The company delivers high quality service with dependable, high-performance equipment operated by professional personnel.
Located in Lloydminster, Alberta, Big Bore Directional Drilling was started in 2009 by Company President Doug Fischer. Mr. Fischer spoke with Business in Focus about the rapid growth the company has undergone in its brief history.

“We specialize in rock drilling,” he says. “Our lineup Ditch Witch All Terrain drills are built to perform. The All Terrain is the most effective directional drill in the widest range of formation – including solid rock.”

With growing industry-wide demand for environmental sensitivity, the Directional Drilling provided by Big Bore offers a greener method for installing lines. Directional Boring, commonly called horizontal directional drilling or HDD, is a method of installing underground pipes and conduits along a prescribed bore path from the surface, with minimal impact to the surrounding area. Directional Boring is often used in place of other techniques as it offers several key advantages, including: less traffic disruption; lower cost; deeper possible installation; longer possible installation; shorter completion times; and directional capabilities. The method is also safer for the environment, by requiring a low volume of drilling fluid, resulting in less waste.

Big Bore Directional Drilling primarily specializes in Directional Drilling, Boring, Trenchless Installation, and Horizontal Drilling. By utilizing Directional Boring units, the company can bore in diverse environments and can cater to a unique segment of the Canadian oil industry. Indeed, some key customers of Big Bore include Husky Energy, Canadian Natural Resources, ATCO Electric, ATCO Pipeline, ATCO Gas, Pembina, Tervita, and a number of municipalities, counties, and cities that are upgrading waterlines in the area.

President Doug Fischer brings years of experience and expertise to the field. He started Big Bore with one drilling rig and quickly built a second rig within six months to meet the growing demand for his services. The company has quickly grown to 14 drilling rigs. Today, Big Bore has worked on an extensive number of projects throughout Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia, and also maintains an office in Red Deer.

The company makes it a point to track upcoming projects through various web based sources, and to work closely with engineers to obtain the best possible results for its customers. “The service industry relies on word of mouth referrals, and we are no different,” says Fischer. “Our customers are our business. We strive for top notch customer service, and strongly believe that the relationships we build with our customers will be the determining factor that takes Big Bore to the next level.”

He emphasizes that, “We want to make our customers happy like every other company in the world and at the end of the day, they are proud to have used Big Bore for their drilling needs. We try to make things as easy as we can for the customer because they are not used to rock drilling; they think it should be the same as normal drilling, and it’s not. It takes a lot longer than normal drilling and part of our challenge is to get the customer to understand that.”

Big Bore provides directional drilling services from Ditch Witch All-Terrain with 14 directional drills, four 100,000-lb drills and four 40,000-lb drills; the company offers the tooling to support its directional drills as well. “Our line-up includes water trucks, mud reclaimers, picker trucks, contingency trailers, frac trailers, reel trailers… everything we need to get the job done quickly and efficiently.” These directional drills are designed to drill through rock.

Of course, falling oil prices are having an impact on the company, as they are on the entire industry. As in many oil-producing areas, the downturn in oil prices coupled with the falling value of the Canadian Dollar have affected the region. “Right now, we’re focusing on reducing our costs,” Fischer says. “Everything is very expensive in this business and money goes out just as fast as it goes in. We are continually looking for efficiencies and new ways to streamline our operations; the more efficient we are, the more cost effective we can be.”

He says, however, that the company still has a number of projects keeping the team busy. “We have enough work that will keep us busy for at least the next six months. We haven’t slowed down, but we are facing a slowdown in summertime anyway because of where we are.”

To maintain its edge and ensure the health and well-being of all stakeholders, a strong commitment to safety is another area of focus for Big Bore. The company has regular inspections, program monitoring and positive disciplinary action and an emphasis on training, job-safe procedures, personal protective equipment, and making sure that tools and equipment are utilized and maintained to a high standard.

Big Bore’s Health, Safety and Environmental Program strives for excellence through positive attitudes, actions and performance of its daily ‘Safe Work’ activities. The company trains its labourers in rock drilling and working with rigs for approximately six months before allowing them to fully operate a rig themselves. Big Bore also maintains a number of affiliations with key associations throughout the region to guarantee its safety procedures and practices reflect best practice.

One notable project the company recently undertook was a drilling project for ATCO Gas in Calgary, Alberta. The drilling is a part of ATCO’s Urban Pipeline Replacement Project to replace some existing high-pressure gas pipelines or, where designated, to convert to low-pressure distribution service within Calgary and Edmonton and build new high-pressure gas pipelines in and around the transportation and utility corridors. Fischer is particularly proud that the project was completed without a hiccup and with “little disruption to traffic in the middle of downtown Calgary.”

Future plans for the company include a focus on larger rigs and on becoming involved in larger projects; the company plans to purchase 300,000-lb rigs to accommodate deeper boring and bigger pipe projects.

For the last six years, Big Bore Directional Drilling has provided professional service and the best equipment to serve the unique aspects of the rock drilling sector. “We are a very good company and always striving to be better,” says Fischer. “By trying to do a perfect job every time we go out, we hope to achieve industry best results. ‘Building the Best to Exceed Expectations’ is our motto, and at Big Bore we strive for the best service, the best equipment, the best staff… to exceed our customers’ expectations every day.”



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