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Prime Drilling is a German engineering company that produces drilling rig solutions for clients in the onshore oil and gas sector.
It was established in 1999 and since that time has focused on retaining a small but skilful workforce of approximately 70 people, organized in a very flat hierarchy. This careful model has differentiated Prime Drilling from many of its larger competitors and been crucial in securing it a steady high volume order book throughout its lifetime. Every single rig to emerge from the company’s factory has been tailored to meet the client’s specific requirements.
“It is all custom made,” says international sales and service director Ralf Kiesow. “Everyone wants their design to be a little bit different and this is where we are really strong. Prime Drilling has an in-house design team that takes care of exactly what the customer requires and can even recommend designs that are more suitable where necessary. In terms of recent contracts, we sold two machines to Australia that will be used for coal seam gas drilling that were specially designed for the client. We are also about to build a machine for Nigeria that is able to sail natively. It is a drilling rig that doesn’t need a separate barge to work in swamps because it can float and maneuver itself. It’s the first one we’ve made and I believe possibly the first one in the world.”
Prime Drilling’s bespoke approach means that innovation is at the very heart of its business. It ensures the machines are mechanically simple, for example, so that clients can find replacement parts in their local market and repair the rigs themselves without requiring too much assistance from the manufacturer. This has become an increasingly significant feature because the company’s quality and service has drawn attention from all corners of the world, resulting in Prime Drilling rigs located on every continent. At present Prime Drilling’s most popular market is Russia, where many clients believe in the quality and reliability of its machines.
Another recent development by Prime Drilling is the pipe pusher, a machine that grabs pipes and pushes them into boreholes over a long distance. It is placed on the exit point of a building and can be used if the pipe in question is particularly large, leaving the contractor unsure as to whether the rig itself can offer the required capacity. A commitment to innovation and design is equaled by a dedication to using high quality materials. Its large steel consumption, for example, draws from a single German steel supplier that the company has come to rely on for high quality metals. Despite this it makes sure to test all the steel for quality and reliability before engineering it.
“We have a certain standard with respect to quality,” Ralf says. “On the rigs recently sent to Australia, for example, we even had a third party carrying out non-destructive testing (NDT) on the welding seams so that everything was tested and reported to the quality expected by the customer. From 1999 to date all the rigs produced by Prime Drilling are still working, which illustrates the quality of the materials we use.”
Unsurprisingly, in light of this evidence, business for Prime Drilling has proved continuously fruitful. “The order books have been consistently full over the last five years,” Ralf explains. “We could have sold even more but our philosophy is to have a team of 70 people and not grow much more than the size we are now. We are based in Sauerland and the people here are committed – they work in one company until they retire. Therefore it is important for Werner Wurm, the main shareholder of our company, to have a business that remains steady so all employees have a job until they choose to leave.
“It is thus important that we do not grow because if the market drops and you have a business based on selling things according to price – rather than based on detail and quality as Prime Drilling does – then it would be necessary to drop the quality of the final product in order to meet that price. That is something we will never do. We have a reputation for high quality machines and want it to remain because this has ensured the company steady business for more than 12 years now. The order books were full for last year and we are nearly booked up until the summer of 2013 so it looks like good business will go on.”
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PRIME DRILLING HDD-Drilling Rigs for Gas Drainage Drillings of Coal Seams in Australia
PRIME DRILLING GmbH in Wenden near Olpe was founded in 1999 and is specialized in the manufacture of HDD Horizontal Drilling Rigs of up to 6.000 kN pull force. PRIME DRILLING with its meanwhile 70 high- qualified employees and long experience stands for drilling competence, high production quality and perfect service. More than 150 HDD Horizontal Drilling Rigs manufactured by PRIME DRILLING are in operation around the world. The company´ s success is particularly due to its ability to respond to the mainly technically very demanding customer requests and to meet their expectations. PRIME DRILLING has just demonstrated this ability once more by an application outside its usual industry.
Mankind will obviously continue to be dependent on fossil fuels for a while. More and more new deposits of raw materials are exploited all over the world, especially deposits of oil, gas and coal. Australia is blessed with such deposits and one of the largest mining countries in the world. 10% of the global coal reserves are located in Australia. It is thus no surprise that coal mining is a major economic factor in the country. In the 2008/ 2009 accounting year about 487 million tons of coal were extracted and about 261 million tons of those were exported.*)
In New South Wales and Queensland exist large near- surface deposits of high- quality hard coal, which are to be extracted by open-cast mining. With mining of these coal deposits a gas based on methane is produced called coal seam gas, which is known as “mine gas “ in Europe and which is similar to natural gas in composition. Coal seam gas is produced by the decomposition of organic components within coal deposits. In the past this gas was simply burnt, but these last 10 years it has been used more and more often to generate electricity. To be able to extract the gas, the water in the coal seam has to be pumped out first to lower the pressure inside and thus to allow for extraction of the gas.
Usually the gas is extracted via vertical drillings of lengths of e.g. 350 m down into the coal seam, which are later linked to each other by horizontal drillings in the surface layer of the seam. By means of the thus created line system nearly the entire deposit can be degassed. The aim is on the one hand to use the coal seam gas for power generation and on the other hand to reduce the gas content in the deposit to such a degree as to allow mining without safety risks. The time expenditure for such degassing operation varies as per size of the coal deposit. The present project is planned over a period of 2 years of gas extraction.
Horizontal directional drillings are challenging and require expertise. So the responsible sales and service director at PRIME DRILLING, Mr. Ralf Kiesow, one day received a telephone call from Australia and an invitation for a meeting. Mr. Kiesow had already been in contact with the mine operator for quite a while. The preliminary discussions proved to be worthwhile as the customer was convinced to have found the right partner in PRIME DRILLING. Ralf Kiesow returned from Australia with a 30- pages specification document of specific customer requirements in the baggage.
„After our team of designers had checked the customer specifications with their strict safety provisions and judged them technically feasible, we received the firm order for two drilling rigs in December 2011 and started to develop a special version on the basis of the existing rig type PD 100/80 RP-C 45° with a maximum thrust/ pull force of 100 tons”, reported Ralf Kiesow.
With the design of the rigs the following needed to be observed: the penetration angle was to be between 6 – 45 degrees, a minimum drilling speed of 25 mm/ min. was to be realised and the breakout system to be installed should have a clamping range of 105 to 405 mm. Also a self- centering pipe handler without re-adjustment of the drill rods and the casing pipes was required. Furthermore an explosion- proof safety area of 3 m radius around the drilling shaft needed to be provided. All load- bearing welded steel constructions had to be checked by non-destructive material testing and documented accordingly. The drill mast was designed for 2 different drill rod lengths and was 18 m in length. With some safety- related options the Prime Drilling team even managed to exceed the strict Australian safety requirements, e.g. by the specially developed spring park brake that prevents the several tons heavy power rotary head from sliding down even in case of total failure of the hydraulic system.
In the summer of 2012 the two rigs were shipped ex Hamburg on a 45 days journey to Brisbane. Since then the drilling rigs are in operation in Australia. The drillings performed are horizontal blind hole bores of diameter 3 ½”, a length of up to 1,800 m and a depth of up to 350 m. The vertical drillings installed earlier need to be linked to the horizontal drilling and are equipped with reference transmitters to that effect so the horizontal directional drilling rig can receive and locate the signal. In order to reach a vertical bore in e.g. 200 m depth, penetration is to be made at an angle below 45° and in a 200 m distance from the vertical bore. Once the installation depth in the surface layer of the coal seam has been reached, the drilling can be continued from vertical bore to vertical bore until the target point is met. Then wash-over pipes are inserted up to the drill head, which allows for safe pull-back of the drill rods including drill head. Finally filter pipes are installed into the now empty wash-over pipes by means of rollers that are fixed to the first pipe and are driven hydraulically. The drilling operation is then completed by pulling back the wash-over pipes.
The slotted filter pipes absorb and then transport the water to the vertical bores where it is pumped to the surface. After drainage of the water the pipes are used to extract the gas for power generation.
Ralf Kiesow says: “If no issues occur and provided the works are not interrupted and executed in day and night shift, the complete drilling procedure for a drilling length of 1,800 m will take about 1.5 weeks.”
This is how a specific application was realised to the entire satisfaction of the customer as quickly and simply as ever.
HDD-Compact-Drilling Rigs with X-pump on board,
300 kN - 600 kN pull force (30 t - 60 t)18 kNm - 30 kNm torque
Our Horizontal Directional Drilling Rigs in the category of 300 to 600 kN pull force are powerful and technically fully developed devices. Due to their compact structure time requirements for the setting up of the drill mast in both drilling and transport positions are reduced to a minimum.
All driving, setting and drilling functions are actuated by a water-cooled diesel engine. Feed as well pull back function of the hydraulic power rotary head are carefully driven by a rack & pinion (RP) feed system. With our HDD-Rigs of type 30 to 60t, drillings of lengths up to max. 1,000 m and of diameters up to maximum 1,000 mm are achievable. Our horizontal directional drilling rigs can be equipped with a semi-automatic drill rod magazine with a capacity of maximum 72 m of drill rods or, alternatively, with a semi-automatic drill rod supply with 30 m of drill rods.
Our control cabin is equipped with ergonomical seat, heating and radio as standard. Further options like air conditioning, drill data log-in system etc. are available on request. The special feature of our Compact-Rig is the pump „on board“. This saves space during transport and on site and also offers greater flexibility.
Prime Drilling innovation presented at the Intermat Show
PRIME DRILLING has presented its latest innovation - the new PRIME PIPE PUSHER - on the occasion of the INTERMAT show in Paris, which took place from 16 to 21 April 2012.
The Prime Pipe Pusher mainly serves for additional push or pull force with pipe pullback, but also offers the perfect solution for application combined with tunnel boring machines.
PRIME DRILLING® is operating worldwide and is specialized in Horizontal Directional Drilling Technology. With our optimized products and 30 years of experience in the construction of HDD Rigs we have set standards in the international HDD-industry.
We do not only offer tailor-made technologies for HDD projects, but simultaneously provide experience and know- how.
Your investment in PRIME DRILLING HDD products offers the inestimable advantage of independence, error prevention and cost saving.
From technical training, planning and preparation up to execution of the job we are always on your side at all times. We support our customers with their projects directly on site. We assist them systematically and give advice on their projects – also in the long term – to meet our objectives: optimal technology on optimal arranged job-sites for successful clients, who can operate their equipment independently.
It does not matter where you are, but we will keep our word: whether in the Arctic, Sahara or Himalayas, the PRIME DRILLING® modular construction system will be adjusted individually to any geographical and geological challenges – from standard version up to customer-made solution.