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Diamondback water well drill rig: "More than lives up to its billing"

The Epiroc Diamondback DB40 has been hard at work around the U.S. Pacific Northwest’s Columbia River Gorge since March 2018.
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The tubular tower design of the DB40 had been the first feature to catch Moore’s eye. “That mast opens up the work area,” Moore said. He enjoys the open access it gives to weld up casing. The DB40 can be ordered with choice of 34-foot or 38-foot (10.4 m or 11.58 m) tubular tower. A 38-foot tower allows installation of a casing hammer. The DB table has multiple opening options of 10 ¾-, 17-, and 24-inch bushings. Moore has the 17-inch bushing in his DB40, allowing him to quickly switch between a 17-inch opening and a 10 ¾-inch opening.

Gabe Moore, third-generation water well driller and co-owner of M-K Waterwell Drilling Inc. of Dallesport, Washington, said once he saw the Diamondback, he paid little attention to other rigs.

For Moore, the main attraction was the rig’s water well drilling capabilities at its affordable price-point. Residential wells drilled with down-the-hole (DTH) tools in the area’s Columbia Basalt formation account for 95 percent of M-K calls.

The Diamondback is about 1,600 pounds (726 kg) lighter than a similarly-configured Epiroc TH60 water well rig. M-K’s DB40 has 40,000 pounds (177.9 kN) of pullback, 10,000 pounds more pullback than their previous rig.

The Diamondback feed travels at 200 feet (60 m) per minute, about 40 feet (12.2 m) per minute faster than a TH60. The DB40 has double the travel rate of their previous rig, Moore said.

In June 2018, M-K was finishing its 13th well, not long after delivery and commissioning. They drilled into the formation with a 6-inch, down-the-hole hammer, and 6-inch, DTH carbide button bit after passing through 10 feet of fine clay topsoil.

Moore continued down into the rock, injecting with water at 3 to 4 gal./min. He said he’ll most often drill a 6-inch hole to find the aquifer before reaming out the top of the well profile. “But I already know pretty much where the water is here. Up here, I know we’ll find it somewhere between 600 and 800 feet.”

Moore found the aquifer at 635 feet. He enlarged the hole with a hole opener to set 3 feet of 8-inch-diameter conductor. He cased the well to 100 feet, a state requirement, with 6 ⅝ inch-diameter, ¼ inch-wall, steel casing in an 8-inch hole drilled with an 8-inch tricone. He continued the well’s 6-inch hole to a total depth of 660 feet, producing at least 20 GPM. “This is a good well. We usually shoot for 15 or better up here,” he said.  “We’ve already been to 1,100 feet with this rig, and I know we can go even deeper,” Moore said.

Cutting samples had come up soft in a couple places. Moore made the call to line this hole with 4 ½-inch PVC to prevent any sloughing, perforating the bottom 40 feet.

The rate at which M-K trips out with the Diamondback keeps M-K’s helper Coe busy. They used the rig’s heavy-duty, 18,000-pound winch to pull up the pipe. The DB series offers 18,000- and 30,000-pound winch options for the deep hole version. With the Diamondback driller’s controls, Moore is able to both extend the table fork into place holding the pipe downhole as well as control the hydraulic break out wrench. Once the pipe is broken loose, the helper swings in the optional pipe spinner to hydraulically spin off the pipe in a matter of seconds, saving both time and effort on each joint. Nearly 700 feet of pipe was racked in record time for M-K. Moore pulled out the conductor and sealed the top 20 feet of casing with bentonite clay.

"The Epiroc DB40 has more than lived up to its billing."
Gabe Moore, Co-owner of M-K Waterwell Drilling Inc

The rig’s advanced technology allows Moore to optimize rig performance and drilling operations. Fuel consumption has been averaging between 23 to 25 GPM in drilling operations, with 3 to 4 gallons of DEF per day.

The Diamondback has helped M-K drilling keep up with their busy schedule. “We’re swamped right now. We have plenty of work”, Moore says. The Diamondback has now helped M-K drilling complete 60 wells. Moore is pleased with its performance stating, “It has more than lived up to its billing.”

 
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