Drilling has commenced

Adam Randell
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Shoal Cove East project sees lots of local employment

Drilling across the Strait of Belle Isle for the Muskrat Falls transmission cable is well underway.

The plan is to drill three holes, for two transmission cables and one spare, on each side of the Straits.

The Newfoundland side will see 2,300 metres, drilled, with the Labrador side seeing 1,700 metres drilled, with the cable in between being laid on the ocean floor and protected by a berm.

After Forteau company C&T Enterprises completed the Shoal Cove East drill pad earlier this fall, an Alberta based company, Direct Horizontal Drilling, moved it to set the rig.

For protective measures, the company put in a drill mat, made of timber and steel, with a tarp underneath to protect the soil.

Basically, the mat levels the land space for the rig, and necessary operation containers.

The drill, which is mounted to a flatbed trailer, has been jacked up on a 12-degree angle to allow the drilling to take place. There will be changes in the trajectory, following the sea floor as the pipe extends down.

Greg Fleming, Marine Crossing Project Manager with Nalcor, is responsible for the Strait of Belle Isle.

Fleming said the process is called Horizontal Directional Drilling and Direct Horizontal Drilling is the company that owns the rig.

“Effectively it’s very much like an oil and gas rig, with all the same components, except it’s a little less powerful,” he said. “Everything we have in terms of the bits, drilling fluids and muds, directional controls is all same as we use in the offshore oil and gas industry.”

Fleming explained that each hole is being drilled 14 and three-quarter-inches, with a 10 and three-quarter-inch cable being placed inside.

As of Tuesday, the company had hit the 1,000 metre mark on the first hole. At this point drilling stopped to change out the bit.

Fleming said the first hole will be finished up before breaking for Christmas, and it will be another couple of weeks before the Newfoundland holes are completed.

From there the company will pack up and move the equipment to the Labrador side to get things operational.



In total there are 30 people employed on the Shoal Cove East site.

Twenty people with Direct Horizontal Drilling, the other 10 are support services.

Out of the 20 people for Direct, 18 are employed locally – from the Northern Peninsula.

“It’s really good to see that because we had sessions here back in October, and it was overwhelming turnouts, because we had a lot of qualified people from the Northern Peninsula turn out,” said Fleming.


Organizations: CT Enterprises

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Shoal Cove East, Northern Peninsula

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