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News Article

Building Versatile Rigs to Expand Horizons

Mon, 10/21/2013 - 22:31

Drilling companies have little freedom to choose the location of their projects; the geologist makes a prediction of where minerals may be found, and based on that selects the locations for drilling. Those drilling targets may be on flat land next to a highway, or in the middle of nowhere, accessible only by air. Drilling companies therefore need to have a flexible approach to their projects, and be ready to tackle the natural challenges that they will no doubt be presented with. “You need to work according to the space you have, so there is a challenge there,” says Brenda Carranza, General Manager Mexico and Executive Director Global Marketing at Falcon Drilling. As a result of the different types of challenges that the company has faced in the field, it has made flexibility one of the key features of its products. “Because of the adaptability of our drills we can access difficult and remote areas. We can put the drills on skids and move them around, or we can put them on a unit, in a truck, on a crane, or transport them by helicopter,” says Carranza. Falcon Drilling was founded by two brothers from Canada who are experienced pilots, and the company has one helicopter in Mexico. This makes the company much more adaptable on these types of projects where a lack of infrastructure makes access by road impossible.

as we drilled. We are the only company that went deeper than the 80 meters and kept going,” says Carranza. Carranza attributes her team’s success on this project to the company’s approach to communication: “The key is for the field to be in contact with the office. The drillers sometimes get frustrated, naturally, but if they run out of ideas they can call the office or other branches that have been in similar situations and get advice from them. Falcon has excellent communication, not just in the field but at the corporate level as well.”

One of Falcon Drilling’s key objectives in order to remain competitive in a squeezed drilling market is to be continuously offering its customers bigger samples and smaller drills. To this end, the company is currently working on the design of its own version of the commercial drill. “A company might have very large drills, but this will be no good for a company that does not have a large area in which to set them up. On our current drills the engine alone weighs around 600kg, and the whole drill can weigh up to 10-12 tonnes, depending on the model, and including the skids and all of the other accessories. The commercial drill is portable and can be moved around by the workers.

The company manufactures all of its own drills, which means that it has a thorough understanding of the equipment it provides, and can adapt each drill to the needs of customers, and the drilling location. “The drills are manufactured internationally but our staff is trained to change the setup of the drill - to increase its power, change the gear or attach any kind of accessory. It is important for Falcon to be able to modify our drills in these ways because in different areas and circumstances the drills need to be configured differently. Our mechanic will decide whether for example in certain weather a certain modification will be necessary,” says Carranza.

Falcon Drilling has certainly not shied away from the more challenging drilling projects. In Tepehuanes, Durango, the company took on a project that four other drilling companies had previously tried unsuccessfully to drill. “The first 80 meters were extremely difficult. What we did was to cement the area, and we went slowly, cementing

It weighs around 1,000kg, with a tower of 200kg. Whilst it is not going to drill holes that are as deep as the bigger drills can, it has other features that better meet our clients’ requirements,” Carranza explains.

While drilling companies are in constant competition amongst themselves, Carranza has noted that in recent times mining companies have started to perform this service in-house to save costs. In Falcon Drilling’s experience, where the company does not have sufficient drilling experience this can represent a false economy. “Mining and drilling are different types of businesses. The drilling procedure requires specific knowledge, a lot of equipment, accessories, and spare parts, which are expensive. You need to be prepared to spend money at the outset and wait some time before you get the return on the investment, and you really need to know the business and understand it. In order to do this you need to have a good team on your side,” warns Carranza.