directional drilling

Horizontal Directional Drilling Explained: The Process and Its Applications in Calgary

By Hydrovac Calgary   |   Directional Drilling   |   0 Comments   |   5 August, 2023   |   0

Horizontal directional drilling (HDD) has become an essential technique for installing underground infrastructure in Calgary and cities across Canada. HDD provides a trenchless method for crossing obstacles like roadways, rail lines, and water bodies to run utilities and piping underground. Read on to learn more about how horizontal directional drilling works and why it’s so important for local infrastructure projects.

How Does Directional Drilling Work?

Directional drilling starts like a conventional vertical borehole but then gradually curves to become horizontal. After drilling a pilot bore from entry to exit point, the hole is enlarged by back reaming and finally the utility pipe is pulled back through.

Key equipment used includes a surface-mounted directional drill rig, mud mixing system, downhole mud motor and drilling assembly, and electronic tracking and guidance tools. The drilling fluid lubricates the drill bit and carries cuttings back to the surface. Steel drill pipe joins together to push the tools horizontally from the entry pit.

At Calgary directional drilling companies like Hydrovac Calgary, highly trained operators control the drilling process with precision steering techniques and real-time tracking data. The drill head is gradually tilted to build angle and curve the wellbore to the desired horizontal trajectory and exit point.

Benefits of Horizontal Directional Drilling

Compared to conventional trenching, HDD provides many advantages:

  • Installs utilities under obstacles like roads without digging trenches.
  • Minimal surface disturbance and environmental impact.
  • Achieves long drill distances from a single drill site.
  • Curved trajectories possible, not just straight paths.
  • Cost-effective, efficient, and safe construction method.

Applications of Directional Drilling in Calgary

From oil pipelines to fiber optic conduits, horizontal directional drilling enables critical infrastructure projects throughout the city:

  • Crossing highways and railways to link water and gas pipelines.
  • Installing electrical and telecom networks underground.
  • Running irrigation piping below parks and gardens.
  • Crossing rivers and wetlands without harming ecosystems.
  • Major role planned for Green Line LRT installation.

For any major utility construction in Calgary, depend on the experience of local directional drilling companies like Hydrovac Calgary to get the job done right.


While incredibly useful, HDD does pose some challenges:

  • Requires accurate downhole tracking and pressure monitoring.
  • Risk of drilling fluid escaping if pressures get too high.
  • Careful planning needed to correctly exit target area.
  • Significant equipment, materials, and skill required.

When performed by a qualified company like Hydrovac Calgary, these risks can be minimized through careful execution and experience.

The Bottom Line

With its minimal ground disturbance yet ability to cross almost any obstacle, horizontal directional drilling has become a cornerstone of infrastructure construction in Calgary. As the city continues to expand and upgrade its utilities, count on HDD to play a major role.



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