Digging Deep to Produce Exceptional Results

Big Bore Directional Drilling
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

With commodity prices down and with operations scaled back as a result, profitability in the oil and gas sector has become a challenge. This is not, however, the case for Big Bore Directional Drilling. Big Bore digs deep to produce exceptional results even in market conditions that are less than ideal, doing jobs safely and compliantly without sacrificing efficiency and quality.
Though less than ideal, there is optimism that these market conditions will not persist for long. As Des Ross, Operations Manager with Big Bore noted, “I’ve been in the oil industry in one way, shape, form, or another, here for over 30 years. This isn’t the first downturn I’ve seen and it’s not the first downturn any of us have seen, so it’s just a matter of riding out the storm and being ready when the time comes.”

Big Bore was established in 2009 by Doug Fisher, with only one rig and a desire to grow. The company grew quickly and in the same short time established a reputation for being an industry leading service provider. Big Bore produces deeper bores and longer installation pathways that are cost-effective and maintain a focus on safety and minimizing environmental impact.

Big Bore’s reputation is a recognition of its efforts to equip its employees with a well-maintained fleet consisting of only the best Ditch Witch All-Terrain equipment and the necessary training and resources to produce workmanship of the highest quality.

In order to stay competitive in a down market, Big Bore has done like any other company, keeping down costs while also making efforts to diversify its offerings. The company has identified a complementary sector for which its exceptional directional drilling services and capabilities can be utilized. Its expertise lies in directional drilling, horizontal directional drilling, boring and trenchless installation with rock drilling expertise but recently, Big Bore has expanded into the fibre optic sector, a market that presents great opportunity and potential, and one that is well-served by Big Bore’s capacities.

“The main area of growth in the last year has been in the fibre optic industry,” explained Ross. “With the price of oil where it is, it really hasn’t resulted in the pipeline work that we would typically do so we branched off into the fibre optic world with smaller rigs doing installation and feeder work.” Not only has Big Bore added smaller rigs to its fleet to support the fibre optic side of the business, it has also added a 330 000-pound rig that will expand drilling capacities to accommodate bigger pipe and longer, deeper bores.

“We’re predominately in Saskatchewan at this point,” Ross added. “That seems to be where the bulk of our work is at the moment. That being said, we do have rigs in Manitoba as well, working on pipelines and we do have some upcoming work in Fort St. John area but in the last year we did have rigs up there but it wasn’t as busy as we thought we’d see.”

Big Bore has offices in Red Deer, Alberta, Calgary, Alberta, Midale, Saskatchewan, Fort St. John, B.C. and is headquartered in Lloydminster, Alberta. As it grows its market presence across Western Canada, the company continues to invest in its fleet and its people to power a culture of excellence.

Despite the fact that it has expanded its offerings over the years, Big Bore has been able to do so without sacrificing its commitment to quality and safety. Customers can continue to depend on the firm and the multiple advantages that result from choosing its services. Directional drilling, for example, offers great potential when used for the installation of underground pipe and conduit. The benefits associated with directional drilling capabilities are: the guarantee of minimal traffic disruptions; lower costs; deeper and longer installation; shorter completion times; there is no access pit required; and it can be safer for the environment.

As a result, Big Bore has the capacity to install water and sewer pipes below existing infrastructure; the team can drill paths through sensitive terrain and can support sectors that rely on pipelines and electrical conduits. By requiring lower volumes of drilling fluid, Big Bore’s directional drilling services produce less waste, and as such, reduce environmental impact to the surrounding areas.

Ross was sure to emphasize Big Bore’s commitment to regulatory compliance. “We follow, at a minimum, a set of industry recommended guidelines. We do everything in our power to make sure that the equipment goes out in good shape so we’re not spilling hydraulic oil or gear oil or stuff like that on the ground. We use environmentally friendly products wherever possible and we follow good environmental policies. We are very stringent with what we do,” he continued. To be sure, Big Bore is committed to being a “good corporate neighbour. We want to make sure we are doing our part to keep the world a clean and safe place.”

Big Bore endeavours to provide its customers with service of the highest degree of excellence, and when asked what sets the company apart from other like-service providers, Ross cited a number of differentiating factors. “We feel that we do a better job training our people. We feel our crews are amongst the very best in Western Canada. Organization is huge; we want to make sure that when our people go out that they are prepared to do whatever the job requires when they get there, without a bunch of additional work needing to be done as far as requiring additional equipment and additional parts,” he said.

These things cost the customer money and Big Bore aims to reduce wasted time to maximize both productivity and value. Big Bore also ensures that its equipment is well maintained and arrives at a job site ready for action. As Ross stated, “We’re trying to be THE best service provider in this industry. When we arrive on the job site, we want to be ready to go!”

Great effort goes into training and safety at Big Bore and that begins with assembling a team of the industry’s best talent. “We put a lot into training them and we look for the best and the brightest. We want guys that can think for themselves and know what they are doing and innovate. Not every bore is the same so [we look for] guys that can adapt and come up with a game plan.”

Big Bore is Comply Works, COR, CQN, ISNetworld, PICS, Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) Alberta, B.C., Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and Work Safe B.C. certified, and is dedicated to ensuring work sites are safe and that its people make it home each and every day. The team has devised a recipe for success when it comes to delivering safe, quality output and world-class service.

“We want to build the perception that we are the place that people want to work, and we work hard to do that,” said Ross. “We look after our people, and in return, our people look after us. Everybody’s equipment is the same these days and we’re only as good as the people that operate them. We realize that and in that regard we strive to make sure that our people are looked after.”

Big Bore continues to support excellence by maintaining clean work sites and its fleet of equipment and providing the necessary resources, compensation packages, and a work environment that empowers professionals to thrive. Company leadership continues to make smart decisions and as such has insulated itself from the market volatility that has eliminated a number of competitors. “There are a lot of people that are folding up their tent, so to speak, and going home,” Ross explained. “We have no intention of doing that.”

Moving forward, Big Bore will continue a conservative spending program to support operations while the commodity market remains weak, prepared for the market’s return. Ross is optimistic that the market in Fort St. John will recover, with more opportunities on the horizon in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as well as in the fibre optic sector.

Big Bore will continue to be present, ready to take full advantage of growth potential that presents itself. By continuing to focus on safety, quality and efficiency, and by attracting and hiring industry-leading expertise, Big Bore will continue to leave satisfied customers in its wake, digging as deep as required to make it happen.



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