HDD Training Course Held in South Africa

An HDD Training Course was hosted by ELB Equipment in Boksburg, South Africa, Jan. 28-29 and Jan. 31-Feb. 1. The course was presented by James Mansel of Clear Solutions.

Although the course was aimed at managers (consultants, contractors, clients), it was mainly attended by HDD subcontractors. The subcontractors showed a great enthusiasm that this course was aimed at managers, as they indicated that there is a significant lack of understanding of the drilling process on the clients’ side.

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The course was presented in three parts: lectures, case study and examination. The two-day lectures covered all aspects of directional drilling, including:

· Health and safety risks surrounding HDD operations both at the rig and at the remote location where the back reamer is attached

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· Appropriate drilling equipment – this gave an introduction to the drill rig; the different types of rigs that are available; and the type of drill bit required for clay, rock or sandy terrain

· Site planning – this provided a layout for the site ensuring that there is adequate space; and gave an overview and examples of how to design the drill path profile

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· Drilling fluids – some of the different fluids were demonstrated in the course and the associated benefits for different applications were emphasized. Although the facilitator is affiliated with ClearSolutions (a drilling fluid supplier), he was not biased in his presentation. He often reiterated that not all fluids will work with all applications

· Locating existing services – the facilitator gave the best practice of locating underground services and provided a number of case studies from his experience. He stressed the fact that all services have to be located before any drilling commences.

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The case study split the attendees into two groups in order to debate whether the drilling contractor or the client was responsible for the consequences of poor drilling. A real-life claim was distributed to all delegates. Two teams were formed, with one team representing the “client” and the other team the “contractor.” A discussion and debate followed where each team had to defend its position or claim – which was a great learning experience. Mansel then concluded the debate by briefing the attendees on the outcome of the historical claim. This provided a unique perspective to all delegates and served as a warning to what can go wrong. It also provided an opportunity for the attendees to share their experience of drilling in South Africa. Attendees gave examples of the dynamics between the drilling consultants and the clients.

An open-book examination was written on the course material in order to determine the attendees’ understanding of the topic. The examination not only required a rote understanding of the coursework but also required the attendees to think about the drilling process and apply their knowledge.

Overall, the course was thorough and provided a comprehensive understanding of horizontal directional drilling for those who are either new to this field or have many years of experience. The coursework was well presented and the facilitator made the lectures very interactive.