The biggest rathole auger in North America was finally put to work on December 14 after four years of planning and over eleven months of construction.
Daryll Hosker, President of Cancor Rathole in Fort St. John, British Columbia, ordered the new truck on January 31, 2011 in response to the changing wellbore design and the move to multi-well pads that has resulted from the growth of the shale gas industry in the northeast corner of the province. Almost a full year - and $1.75 million - later, the machine is finally ready to go.
"If it wasn't for shale gas and just the change in wellbore design, then it wouldn't be needed," said Hosker. "But the way things progressed over the last four years - five years - with shale gas, it has really changed what we do."
The six axle truck was built by Kenworth and is equipped with a Watson Drill Rigs Model 3110TM unit that offers the ability to drill to depths of 160 feet below surface. The cost of the truck also includes a separate truck and trailer necessary to carry equipment such as pipes and augers.
The big challenge getting the truck road ready had to do with weight. The truck requires six axles just to fit below the maximum weight per axle and it was only a few hundred kilograms under the total weight limit when it left the garage.
"We're just squeaking it in," said Hosker.
"And to make it all fit on the road, we had to have the rules changed with the [provincial government] to allow this sort of thing on the road."
Service rigs were included in the legislation and that was good enough until Cancor began to use Watson 2500 series rigs that required tri-drive, tandem steer trucks. The new truck is a tri-drive, tri-steer.
Hosker gives most of the credit for making his idea a reality to Jeff McNeal at Inland Kenworth, Tyler Kosick at Trans Carrier Ltd. (TCL), and Sam Lam, an engineer with the provincial Ministry of Transportation.
He is pleased that his company is the first to put this sort of machine on the road, but he doesn't think that their auger will be the biggest one for very long.
"Once people see this and see it work and hear about it, well, then, of course, it will spread," he said.