There comes a time in every driller’s life when a new drilling rig has to be bought. It’s time to start looking when the cost to keep the old rig running negatively affects revenue, you don’t have enough rigs or the right kind to meet customer demand, your business is expanding into new drilling markets, or you’re building a brand new business altogether. Finding the right drilling rig to drill with is easier said than done, so we reached out to industry experts for advice on rig buying in our most popular markets. They touched on when to buy new, used or lease, and what qualities to look for in a drilling rig.
When you’re drilling wells for water, location is everything. In Michigan, for example, the average water well is quite shallow, around 120 feet down, whereas a lot of the western United States consists of rock and it isn’t uncommon to have to drill to depths of more than 6,000 feet to reach water. Taking that into consideration, looking into a used water well rig for work in the Midwest is totally sensible. Head west and the stress on a rig increases, meaning buying new could be a worthwhile investment.
Although going brand new can cost more than $1 million easily, the perks can be especially useful for rigs that deal with tough geologies and experience high rates of wear and tear. You have a warranty on it and so your cost of ownership other than the monthly payment is pretty much capped. And even once the warranty expires, your cost of maintenance for the first five years on a new machine is relatively low.
As for leasing, a lot of people in the water well market confuse it with renting. Another point is that truck mounted drills have to be licensed and titled, and short term deals complicate that process.
Geology matters in terms of features to focus on as well. Safety has been a major theme for the past couple of years, so rigs without catheads are in. The deeper you have to drill, the more pieces of drill rod necessary and the more important this innovative quality becomes in shrinking jobsite liability.
Once the local geology has been determined, relevant attributes to look for are pretty straightforward. If drilling 500 to 1,000 feet down in rocky places, you should look for a rig with an air compressor. In coastal areas, where soils are sandy and holes are shallow, a mud rig or hollow stem machine is ideal. As for combination areas or overburden and rock, combination machines are a smart option. Drilling rigs like these come with an air compressor and mud on board, or they have the capabilities off board to add them.