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What is Horizontal Directional Drilling?

Michels is regarded as a leader in Horizontal Directional Drilling, holding multiple world records (including this 2019 record) and having successfully completed projects in all 50 states. What is Horizontal Directional Drilling?

Horizontal Directional Drilling is commonly called HDD in the trenchless construction industry. HDD is frequently used for installing pipes under rivers, lakes, sensitive wetlands, highways, archeological and historical sites and other areas where open-trench installation would be disruptive or impossible to construct.

A drilling fluid - commonly called “mud” – is a mixture of bentonite (dehydrated clay) and water. The mud lubricates drilling tools, helps keep the hole from collapsing between the time it is drilled and when the pipe is put into place, carries cuttings back up to the hole to clean a path for the drill bit and stem, and produces torque.

HDD has many benefits including:

  • It is trenchless – so no digging is required except for containment pits for the bentonite drilling fluid on either end.
  • It is flexible – projects can span from land-to-land, land-to-water and water-to-water points. When working on water, drill rigs can be set up on stationary barges.
  • It is accurate – Gyroscopic tracking and surface tooling aids in holding the drill path to the prescribed alignment.

Michels has the world’s largest fleet of 1.2 million pound thrust/pull force capacity drill rigs. The rigs, nicknamed Hercules, are designed and built in the Brownsville yard.

Michels experienced crew and specially-designed rigs have allowed us to complete projects others have deemed impossible.

Check out a few of our HDD projects:

North Branch Pipe Replacement

Houston Ship Channel

Nexus Gas Transmission Pipeline

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