Drilling fluid additives play an extremely crucial role when it comes to determining a well’s success or its failure. It has become more important than ever to find new ways when it comes to the improvement of drilling fluids additives. This is primarily because the drilling industry as a whole has a massive demand for spreading into more challenging terrain for drilling purposes.

Let us look at a few steps that can help ensure that you can improve your drilling muds.

Restricting Pressure

When it comes to high pressure, high-temperature drilling, the biggest problem that is faced by construction workers is the narrow window that exists between fracture gradients and pore pressure.

In these situations, it is ideal to try to lessen the additional pressure that is generally exerted on the well. One of the easiest ways to make this happen, when it comes to drilling muds is the usage of low rheology fluid. This thin fluid is a drilling fluid additive that helps create an extremely low amount of pressure for the good bore. Most HPHT fluids, tend to be a high-density fluid in order to support the solids that are added in. This tends to draw most construction workers away from using thin fluids as that support will not be provided. An experienced construction worker needs to find the perfect balance between low-pressure fluids while avoiding the additional dangers that come with poor slide support.

Common Stability

A common problem with drilling fluids additives is that their thermal stability tends to make the entire process of drilling a much more complicated endeavour. In these cases, the construction workers must have a deep understanding of the effects on the drilling fluids additives that come hand in hand with pressure profiles and temperatures of the well. One thing to keep in mind is that high pressure, high temperature wells require a significantly higher amount of effort and time to keep the drilling muds in the best conditions. The drilling muds cannot be changed rapidly so prioritising and understanding thermal stability is of utmost importance.

Extreme Conditions

When choosing any kind of boiling mud or drilling fluid additives, the first thing a construction worker needs to keep in mind is whether they will be capable of maintaining stability for the maximum amount of time in the worst possible conditions. This essentially means that in order to get maximum performance from your drilling muds, you need to calculate the highest amount of time that the drilling muds are expected to work for you and ensure that they are capable of working for that long in the most extreme conditions. Though these conditions will not be commonplace having a fluid that can manage this beforehand makes it much easier to handle any complications should the drilling mud start to break down thermally. In these situations, there are a significant number of new elements that are added to the system, which can cause certain chemical reactions that can have unexpected and adverse reactions on the drilling process as a whole.

When it comes to trenchless projects, remote tools are one of the most efficient ways in order to have a project with a very low level of waste disposal. It is significantly different from boring as the tasks, and the method for completion is entirely different in both processes. On the one hand, boring is a simple process of creating a hole in a surface and using that space to lay specific pipelines.

But reamers, are put into use after the hole has already been bored. To put it simply, a reamer is tasked with making the existing hole larger in order to accommodate the installation of new pipelines. This has made HDD rock reamers an integral portion of most underground drilling projects and this is also why reamers are also known as hole openers.

Necessity Of Reaming

Many trenchless projects tend to occur in areas with a significant distribution of soil. If one were to conduct a wide boring project in the soil, there is a significant risk of the hole collapsing. In order to prevent this danger, workers are usually assigned to remove the dirt on a gradual level. This enables them to stabilise the hole and use a reamer. However, the most important use of HDD rock reamers comes in pipe replacement projects. In these projects reaming becomes an absolute necessity as rather than creating a new hole in the soil, the purpose is to increase the size of the hole while placing a new pipe. Today, in most projects the existing pipe that has already been placed is removed through a breakdown process that is conducted by a pipe reamer, that is attached to a horizontal directional drilling machine. This enables a new pipeline to easily slide into place, allowing workers to remove the previous pipes, broken rubble, at the exit point. There are three primary types of reamers, in the market. They are:

Compaction Reamers

These types of reamers are often used in areas where there is soft soil, which has a high chance of collapsing in on itself. Compaction reamers rely on the action of forcing drilling fluid into the soil that surrounds the hole. This is done through a bentonite filter cake. The filter cake, essentially forces or injects the drilling fluid into the surrounding soil, providing a level of support that prevents collapse.

Hole Openers

Hole openers are reamers that make the existing holes larger and allows individuals to replace or install additional pieces into the hole. Hole openers, use rolling cutters when it comes to rock formations for reaming. This is why they are also known as HDD rock reamers as they are consistently used in horizontal directional drilling.

Mixing Reamers

In the event of harder ground conditions, or when trying to ream a borehole, in a ground that is predominantly made up of clay, one needs to employ mixing reamers. These reamers have a variety of threads that include flag cutters and rippers. When activated these rippers can easily break down soil and displace the cuttings from the hole. They require a special kind of drilling fluid additives, which makes them inadvisable to be used as a substitute for HDD rock reamers.

Drill rods are an extremely integral part of the manufacturing and machining industry. With drill rods, you can easily craft in a wide number of tools like machine parts, punches, and cutters. The primary complication when it comes to purchasing a drill rod is choosing the right one for your specific requirements. This is important because drill rods significantly differ when it comes to properties like durability, temperature, resistance, and varied applications. With a large number of types to choose from, it can sometimes get overwhelming to ensure that the correct drill rod is picked for the correct project.

Understanding A Drill Rod

A drill rod is a type of steel that is easy to mould and is commonly used in machining for the production of custom parts and tools. One of the most popular types of drill rods for large scale projects is called directional drill rods. Most drill rods, though, are soft enough to be easily machined into their final form, as they generally need to have a clean and smooth surface. In order to get this type of machining done right, it is ideally recommended to go with precision grinding. There are three types of drill rods based on the manufacturing process that they are subject to. Each of these drill rods has a varied number of applications and utility factors:

Air Hardened:

The air-hardened drill rod is easily regarded as one of the toughest and most durable types of drills. This is simply because they are made from air-hardened steel, which contains more alloy, making them extremely hard. Once the heat treatment is finished, air-hardening drill rods are left to harden in still air, giving them a higher amount of wear resistance and thus, a superior level of machinability. Furthermore, the chances of distortion or destabilising the dimensions of the road are significantly reduced through the air hardening process.

Oil Hardened:

Oil hardened rods have less alloy than their air-hardened counterparts, but they are easily able to withstand welding. This makes oil-hardened drill rods ideal for any machining purposes. As the name suggests, the process of creating oil-hardened drill rods involves heating the rod and dipping it into a container that is filled with warm oil. This submergence enables the steel to become durable enough for welding and machining purposes.Oil hardened rods have less alloy than their air-hardened counterparts, but they are easily able to withstand welding. This makes oil-hardened drill rods ideal for any machining purposes. As the name suggests, the process of creating oil-hardened drill rods involves heating the rod and dipping it into a container that is filled with warm oil. This submergence enables the steel to become durable enough for welding and machining purposes.

Water Hardened Rods:

One of the most traditional types of drill rods is the water hardened drill rods, which have the lowest alloy content. However, the small amount of alloy in the rods does not deviate from the fact that these drill rods are highly suitable for machining purposes. It only means that their structural integrity is not ideal for purposes related to welding projects. In order to harden a drill rod with water, the heated steel is submerged into a pool of cold water, which hardens the metal. This makes the metal easy to machine, but not to weld.

A horizontal directional drill is a relatively recent form of equipment when it comes to utility and pipe installation. Horizontal directional drill rods, enable a construction worker to have a significantly greater amount of flexibility in the placement of the drill, ensuring that they have a higher level of accuracy. When it comes to costly digging projects, many complications of pipe installation and traditional digging are alleviated, when one uses horizontal directional drills.

Let us take a look at a few benefits of using horizontal directional drill rods.

1. Strength

Horizontal directional drills have a longer life span, as they are composed of tougher materials than most traditional drills. Certain areas with a significant amount of moisture, like pipes that run under bridges, or rivers tend to expose the drills to the elements that contribute heavily to the drill rod’s wear and tear. This ends up shortening the lifespan of the pipes, by up to 50%. However, horizontal directional drilling enables a construction worker to install these pipes in a much easier and accurate fashion, thus improving their durability.

2. Lower Installation Time

In a traditional drilling setup, one often needs to dig all the way down and then across to make the space for a pipe. However, horizontal direct drilling means the process of digging down is eliminated entirely, enabling the job to get done in a much shorter span of time. There is a significantly lower amount of dirt that is displaced, which in turn means that there is less dirt to dispose of once the drill rods have done their job.

3. Costs

Horizontal directional drill rods are able to drill with a higher level of accuracy, which means that the entire drilling process takes lesser time, as compared to traditional drilling. Furthermore, when using HDD Tooling, there is a lower amount of equipment needed as the manpower required for operating such a drill is lower as compared to traditional drilling. This makes horizontal directional drilling, highly cost-effective as compared to open-cut drilling.

Lower Chance Of Disruption

With HDD Tooling, the primary disruption factors in most drilling projects are completely eliminated, which is, duration, and landscaping. A horizontal directional drill rod is designed to be more accurate, which means it displaces very little soil and doesn’t require digging down into the property, ensuring that any kind of landscaping is relatively untouched. This enables most individuals to get their drilling projects done and get back to business without having too many disruptions.

Lower Chance Of Contaminating The Soil

Unlike conventional traditional drilling, horizontal directional drilling is focused on displacing the soil to its side, rather than bringing it to the surface. This means that there is effectively a significantly lower chance that any soil contamination will be able to spread above ground during the drilling process. This also prevents contaminated soil from infiltrating the pipes and thereby putting their integrity at risk.

For many years, trenching has been the standard solution when underground utility lines are installed. However, over the years, it has proven to have a number of serious disadvantages.

The most obvious ones are the safety hazards it poses to workers. Many workers have met accidents at excavation sites. Workers have fallen into the trench, been trapped as materials or equipment collapse onto the trench, or have come into contact with hazardous elements such as polluted water or electricity.

But there are also concerns on the project management side of things. Traditional trenching or open cut drilling generally takes longer to finish. It also causes much disturbance to the ground and surrounding environment, which of course requires extensive repair. Plus, staff and the project itself are always more vulnerable to weather and other environmental conditions.

These are the reasons why project managers opt to go the trenchless route. Through a method called horizontal directional drilling, these risks and concerns are mitigated, and workers and clients enjoy a much higher success rate in the horizon. In this article, learn more about horizontal directional drilling.

Horizontal Directional Drilling - JB Trenchless

What is horizontal directional drilling?

Commonly abbreviated as HDD but also known as directional boring, this is a pipeline installation method that bores a hole underground without causing disturbance on the surface. The three stages of HDD are:

Pilot Hole

  • Objective: to prepare the borehole

On the first stage, a pilot hole is bored. The drill bit that is connected to the drill rods penetrates the soil, and it pushes until it reaches the other end of the boring project’s determined borehole length, also called the exit pit.

The drill pipe releases drill fluids which serves as the drill bit’s guide as it moves through the soil. Drill fluids serve as a stoil stabiliser and a lubricant to make for easy passage. They also carry soil cuttings out of the borehole and back to the drill rig to ensure the bore path is bored clean. An HDD location system is used to determine the exact location of the drill bit.


  • Objective: to prepare for safe and smooth pipe insertion

In this step, the pilot borehole is enlarged to a size that can safely accommodate the pipe that’s to be installed. When the drill bit arrives at the exit pit, reaming tools (larger than the drill bit) are attached to the drill bit, and the drill stem is then pulled back until the drill bit returns to the entry point. The HDD location system is again used to locate the drill bit. The result is a hole that is wider in diameter.

Drilling mixtures usually containing bentonite create a cake layer around the pilot hole to ensure a stable hole. Other additives such as polymers are used to further break up the soil, and other mixtures will clear blockages in the borehole as well.

Pipe Pull-back

  • Objective: to install the pipe

At this stage, the product pipe is pulled into the drill hole until it is fully fitted into the bored path. Sections of the pipe are welded together to produce the entire pipe string. Drill rods and reamer are essential in ensuring the drill string properly transfers to the product pipe. Again, fluids are used to lubricate the borehole as the product pipe moves along the hole.

As soon as the pipe fully fills out the length of the hole, the drill string and other horizontal directional drilling materials are removed from the pipe. Finally, the surface around the pilot hole and exit pipe are repaired to their previous condition.

Benefits of horizontal directional drilling

Ease of pipe installation

When utility lines need to be installed underneath areas like highways or rivers, HDD is the solution. With HDD, there is no open cutting involved. This means that when a pipe is installed underneath a river, for example, the pipe can go directly under the surface of the riverbed, causing no disturbance to the environment. Highways can also stay open and busy while necessary pipeline construction is underway.

Longevity of pipes

This benefit is directly related to the previous one listed above. When pipes are installed the traditional way, they can be exposed to elements that cause them to degrade faster. For example, traditional drilling methods recommend pipes run under bridges, which then exposes them to sunlight, rain, and other environmental elements. This cuts the lifespan of pipes by more than half. HDD allows for a pipe to be installed underground with no hassle; placing it underground is what preserves a pipe’s quality.

Overall cost is lower

One might think that because horizontal directional drilling’s technology and technique is more sophisticated that it should cost more. It would surprise you that it actually costs much less. An HDD project is completed much earlier than traditional open cut drilling; saving time means saving money. On top of that, the technique requires fewer equipment as well as personnel. All of this totals into much lower overall cost.

Better for oil and gas extraction

HDD makes it possible to extract valuable resources without properties or natural resources aboveground having to become collateral damage. HDD increases exposure to a reservoir anyway, as lines can be designed and targeted to allow for higher levels of production. HDD pipes may even be curved at certain angles to achieve optimum production.

Better for the environment

HDD is the more environmentally sustainable solution. Instead of breaking the ground apart to expose soil to the surface, HDD moves soil to the side to create the borehole. This means that it is much less likely for soil contamination to spread towards the upper layer of the soil or the ground, and there is much less risk for hazardous elements to be exposed. This also means that it will not ruin landscaping or any existing features aboveground.

Green light your horizontal directional drilling project today with equipment from JB Trenchless

JB Trenchless is your one-stop shop for all your HDD needs, from high-power drilling machines to drill rods, drill fluids, HDD location system, and many more. As your local specialists in the trenchless industry, you can count on us to help you commit to the trenchless technique.

Explore our website to learn more about our products and services. For enquiries, reach us through the following channels:

  • JB Trenchless Melbourne
    Mobile: +61 412 151 436
    Phone: +61 3 9706 5239
  • JB Trenchless Brisbane
    Mobile: +61 412 151 436
  • JB Trenchless New Zealand

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