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  • drilling
  • Environmental Drilling and Sampling

Solutions for Expensive Problems: How Rotary Drilling Saved Thousands for One Arizona Company

Jan 26, 2018 -

Vandalism is a common and expensive problem for property owners of all kinds. When a property is being used for the allocation of production of resources, vandalism can have particularly negative effects; halted projects, missed deadlines, and a loss of revenue. Read on to learn how one company in Arizona was able to save thousands of dollars and avoid the total loss of two production wells damaged by vandals with the help of Cascade.

Project Parameters

The success of this project depended on experienced drilling crews being able to safely recover well pumps and piping that had fallen over 700 feet to the bottom of two production wells.


The client had specific goals in place: avoid the total loss of the tow damaged production wells; recover pumping equipment dislodged by vandalism; complete phase 1 of the project without injury or further property damage.

On-site Challenges

The specific depths and equipment on this site presented a set of particular challenges in dealing with the damage. The vandals had dislodged both the well pump and the drop pipe in two production wells. The first was an 835 foot, 16-inch steel production well, initially constructed in 1975. The second was a 735-foot 10-inch steel production well, built in 1976. The client estimated the weight of the column pipe, line shaft, and pump in excess of 50,000 pounds.

The extensive weight of the equipment and well depth required a minimum pull back capacity on the drill rig of 100,000 pounds. To meet safety requirements, the drill rig and support equipment would require additional retrofits including handrails, lockout devices, and crown out devices. Lastly, all equipment had to pass a thorough safety inspection from the client and a third-party engineer.

Cascade’s Solution

Rotary Drilling

Cascade Crew having a safety meeting on the drill platform

This site presented a specific geology comprised of sands, gravels, clays, volcanic rocks, and various bedrock. The geology, coupled with the particular on-site challenges that this project presented, led Cascade to the decision to utilize a combination of air and mud rotary drilling technologies, along with the custom safety engineering controls, to provide the necessary power and versatility to complete the project.

Air rotary drilling is a method typically used to drill deep boreholes into hardened rock formations. A rapidly rotating drill bit cuts through the rock while air circulates to cool the drill bit, bring drill cuttings to the surface, and maintain borehole integrity.

By contrast, Mud rotary drilling is often used in soft sediments that may or may not be saturated with groundwater. The drill bit cuts the formation into small pieces, called cuttings, which are removed by pumping drilling fluid, called mud, through the drill pipe, out the drill bit and up the annulus between the borehole and drill pipe.  The drilling fluid is also used to cool the drill bit and stabilize the borehole wall, as well as prevent fluid loss into the formation.

The dual combo of air and mud rotary drilling was chosen because there is no other drilling technology capable of safely reaching the extreme depth and diameter required for this project. This particular rig is also capable performing a wide range of drilling tasks with little reconfiguration including air rotary casing hammer, down-hole hammer, direct air rotary and mud rotary. This range of function was quite useful in reducing downtime thanks to the nearly seamless transition between different project phases.


All the damaged equipment was safely recovered on the first attempt in the first production well. The client was able to altogether avoid the cost of closing the well and installing a new one. This success was the result of the unique combination of Cascade’s expert crews, properly selected and effectively utilized drilling technology, and fishing equipment. The recovery project is still underway for the second well.

Rotary Drilling Pipes

Drop pipe & column pipe retrieved from the existing wells

Rotary Drilling Wire

Transducer Wire that was removed from the well

This Mining Well Rehab project is indicative of the level of experience and expertise Cascade crew members bring to complex, idiosyncratic problems. The job sites and the problems are always unique, but at Cascade, we pride ourselves on providing a consistent level of service on every project we work on.

If you’re interested in any of the other ways in which Cascade addresses complex site problems, visit our projects page.

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