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What is Horizontal Directional Drilling?

Horizontal directional drilling is also known as directional boring, slant drilling and deviated drilling and it is a way of drilling trenchless holes in the ground. When used for the oil and gas industry this type of drilling or boring involves laterally drilling of a variety of wells through a zone of oil or gas bearing rocks at angles.

Horizontal directional drilling can also be used for the installation of utility pipelines and conduits. They will pilot a borehole that is drilled along a path that is already been determined from the surface with very little disturbance. This is mainly used for making crossings under rivers, existing structures or roads. The pipes are usually used to transport a variety of different kinds of fluids or materials.

This type of drilling is a good way to get utilities from one area to another without destroying the ground or existing obstacles that are already in place that are located between the areas they need to get utilities to. This type of drilling actually goes way beyond traditional trenching by connecting utilities and services in areas that traditional trenching is simply impossible to do.

Trenching has been the most common way to install and connect utilities but it has always had limitations. It can only be used when the ground above the utilities is allowed to be disturbed and there are no existing buildings, obstructions or roads in the way. However, horizontal directional drilling can be used for the same thing or it can be used to go under the roads, sidewalks, rivers and even houses if necessary.

One drawback for this type of drilling however is its cost. It does cost six to eight times more than trenching. But the even though trenching is more cost effective as you see it does have its limitations.

Horizontal directional drilling will also have a lower impact on the existing ground and this means there is a lot less disturbance to the environment. There is still some damage that will be done caused by construction equipment, but this happens with any type of construction equipment. But, if it is planed properly and patience is used, the damage to the environment is kept to a minimum.

The benefits of this type of drilling are:

  • Less soil disturbance.
  • One location can be used to install different pipes.
  • Can reduce fractures to existing rock formations.
  • Can reduce the contamination of ground water.
  • Protects the ecosystem in the area.
  • Produces twice the amount of oil or gas.
  • Can reduce the excavation and shoring costs.
  • Is a safer method.
  • Weather does not impact the process.
  • Very little landscape or traffic disruption.
  • Can drill under surface objects.

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