Drill: Hammer Drilling

Hammer Drilling in the North Piedra Summer 2010

If you could ask one hundred drillers what their favorite type of drilling was, I would bet that ninety-five of them would answer – Hammer Drilling! It’s a ‘guy thing’ on at least three levels:

  1. It’s fast,
  2. It’s powerful and loud,
  3. and it makes a bunch of money.

—– Insert here Home Improvement’s Tim Taylor grunting ——

But the $5,000 to $25,000 question is, “Is Hammer Drilling the best way to drill your well?”

The average air hammer for a 6.5” hole is about 5 feet long, weighs about 300 pounds, and costs somewhere around $5,000. A large compressor on the drill rig creates 350 PSI of air at 750 CFM. Down in the bore hole, the air hammer has a piston inside of it that cycles up and down very fast and hits the top of the drill bit which then transfers the force of each of the hits to the virgin rock. The air hammer is at the end of the drill rod that rotates and allows high pressure air and a small amount of water is forced through the hollow drill pipe to create the energy for the hammer and to also remove the cuttings from the hole. There are carbide bits or tips on the face of the drill bit. The bit hits the ground every fraction of a second while the rotation of the drill string (drill pipe and hammer) places the carbide tips where they can have fresh rock to strike and shatter. The used air and water and sometimes foam then takes those small particles of rock (cuttings) and pushes them away from the hammer face and up through the bore hole to the surface where the cuttings are discharged onto the ground.

If you have hard rock like sand stone or granite in our area, well God bless you. You need to have a well Hammer Drilled. This is really the only way to get a hole in hard rock. You folks in North Durango have some seriously hard rock that requires us to purchase the hardest carbides that the industry has to offer – and a 600′ hole will still cause a lot of wear. The upside about Hammer Drilling is that normally the borehole is very stable. When a driller reaches water, he can spend some time and air lift the water and ‘clean’ the borehole and determine roughly how much water you have without fear of the borehole collapsing. All of us in the well drilling business love to drill Hammer Holes.

Let me be very frank. From 2012 to 2014, we replaced 27 wells drilled by our competition that stopped producing water. We simply moved over a few feet and drilled again, often to the same depth and most of the time got the original water volume that our competitor stated in his report. We believe that a number of these wells drilled in shale were hammer drilled. A number of the well construction reports show that there was not gravel pack installed. Then some of the wells had too small of perforations. We put together a book that has the Well Construction Reports of our competitors wells that we replaced along with our Well Construction Reports. If I meet you on site to look at drilling your well, I’ll probably have that book with me. If you’re interested, I’ll show you the reality of why we do what we do.

We have to custom build a lot of our own equipment, like this a chute in this picture. This is how we regulate the gravel that goes down into our drilled wells.

With all that being said, we lost a bunch of work to our competition in 2014 who drilled the cheapo 6.5″ hammer holes with a 4″ inside diameter casing, no gravel pack, no pump testing, no well cleaning – slam-bam-thank-you-ma’am-check-please kinda drilling in shale. I feel a little like a prostitute, but we can match the cost that style of drilling in shale. If the lowest cost drilling is the god that you need to sacrifice your well to, sadly, we can do that too. We now can e-mail you a summary of the three costs of the three styles of wells we will drill: Economy Well; Quality Well; Premium Well. Ya get exactly what you pay for in drilling, like with everything else in life.

But let’s go back to the high dollar question. Is Hammer Drilling right for your ground? If you have shale or clay ground material you need to read the next page: Low Pressure Foam Drilling.

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