- Bill Poupis

Over water drilling projects come with unique challenges and safety hazards.  While the objectives may be similar to land-based projects, over water drilling requires a unique set of complex logistical arrangements, safety preparation, and knowledge of barge-based drilling operations. Whether your project is geotechnical or environmental, there are 3 critical issues to consider.


3 Things You Need to Know Before You Launch an Over Water Drilling Project


Drilling experience is the most critical factor. Over water drilling requires a specialized skill set that doesn’t necessarily transfer from land-based drilling. When searching for a drilling contractor, ask specifically if they have drillers and project managers with over water experience.

Have they successfully completed over water drilling projects?  How many? To what depths can they/have they successfully drilled over water? These are critical questions to answer before you make your decision. Make sure to follow up with their project references.

Over water drilling requires specialized equipment. Ask potential partners if they have the necessary equipment to handle the work. Just as importantly, choosing a contractor that provides “turn-key” service from pre-project planning through operations and demobilization eliminates distractions.  



As with any project, pre-planning is crucial to the success of the entire project. Over water work requires significantly more planning because access to the drill site is limited and crews simply do not have the convenience of driving on or off location.

Ensure your drilling contractor is responsible for: coordinating the logistics to get the right equipment and the crews out on the water, preparing the site-specific health and safety plan, contingency planning for the unexpected, securing permits and notifications, and most importantly - scheduling experienced crews. You can’t just run out to Home Depot if you forgot something! Experienced contractors know what to expect and how to prepare for the routine and the unexpected.



Certifications and permits may be required depending on the size barge utilized.  Depending on the type of work and jurisdictions, oversight agencies include DOT, City, State, or Coast Guard.  Work with a drilling contractor who understands the regulations and is familiar with the permitting requirements and process.



Cascade has extensive experience in over water drilling for both environmental drilling and geotechnical drilling applications. If you’d like to know more, you can take a deeper dive into the nuances of over water drilling by accessing our webinar here or download this project highlight, which breaks down an over water drilling investigation Cascade conducted in San Francisco.

Related Resources