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Limited Access – Not Always About Space

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Generally, when we think of the term “limited access” as it pertains to a drilling project we think of “tight spaces”. Whether inside of a building, or a particularly crowded alleyway, the term usually implies that there isn’t much room to set up the rig.

But sometimes the limitation is based on time. One big advantage of horizontal wells is the ability to install well screen underneath active facilities without disrupting their day-to-day operations. But there are some facilities that can’t accommodate ANY site work during certain active hours.

Limited Access With School In Session

Take a recently completed project in the southeast US. The project involved the installation of horizontal sub slab vapor depressurization wells underneath a library at an elementary school.

setting up a drill rig on a limited access project

Plenty of room to set up the rig, but still a limited access job…

Although the site provided plenty of room in the parking lot for rigging up our equipment and staging materials, this project still fell under the “limited access” category. The limitation? Site work could not be completed with school in session.

Regulatory deadlines precluded the idea of waiting until summer break. The scope included just three (3) horizontal wells with total footage of 195ft. Although the drilling and installation would likely only take a couple days, the well development, vault construction and other ancillary site activities meant we’d need more than just a single weekend to finish all site work.

So that left just the window of the holiday break between Christmas and New Years to complete the project.


Project Planning is Key to Successful Execution

In the same way a project with space constraints creates additional logistics considerations, time constrained projects also require careful planning.

tracking the HDD bit on a limited access project in a library

Tracking the bit location while drilling underneath the library

For example, projects like this elementary school job need to consider what impact a holiday schedule might have on travel logistics and material availability.

Another example of time-based access limitations includes night work. Project managers will likely need to arrange for additional equipment like light plants. Additionally, crews will need adequate time before and after the project to acclimate their sleep schedules to the graveyard shift.

Finally, there is an important law of the universe known to all drillers and field hands; That which is going to break, invariably breaks on a Saturday. Anyone contemplating an out of the ordinary schedule should heed this maxim carefully. The services and suppliers we regularly rely on tend to work “normal hours”.

Much like small spaces and tight work areas, sometimes weird work schedules are unavoidable. With proper planning they can go just as smoothly as a “normal” job. However, they do require a little extra attention (and sometimes additional resources).

So, be sure to plan (and budget) accordidngly.

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