It’s a story as old as commerce: A manufacturer sees a promising market and jumps in.

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Halco Rock Tools saw an opening in the oil and gas market and created a new range of down-the-hole hammers to serve it. Company officials say the Superior range of DTH hammers have better air consumption than competitors’ products, which translates to better penetration.

During a recent visit to the company’s Sherman, Texas, facility, Halco oil and gas manager Derek Anderson showed off the new product range.

“Our Superior 800 ... can handle almost as much air as other competitor’s standard 12-inch hammers,” Anderson said during a preview of the new products for National Driller and for a crowd of potential buyers and distributors. The 800 is an 8-inch hammer. The range also includes 6-, 10- and 12-inch hammers to meet the needs of different clients and jobsites.


The Market

The United States oil and gas industry contributes about $1.2 billion each year to the U.S. economy. That doesn’t come without a price tag, though, for companies involved in drilling oil and gas.

Drilling a single well can cost millions. It can start with seismic surveying and land leases before any drilling is done. Investment in rigs, whether leased or bought, is significant. If hydraulic fracturing is part of the plan for a well, that adds a whole layer of expenses for transport, storage, pumping, removal and disposal of millions of gallons of water.

Then there are the people: the operators that have the skills to take the well safely to completion.

The Superior line, Halco officials said, gives exploration and production companies options. They don’t have to tie up larger rigs to do the midsection of each well. E&Ps can use smaller rigs to drill to depth, freeing up the bigger, more expensive rigs for getting down to zones of high interest. Saving a few days of big-rig deployment can mean huge cost savings.

E&Ps constantly look for ways to reduce expenses (while maintaining safety) on their way to the day a well finally produces, because revenue doesn’t begin until oil or gas flows. Halco believes its new Superior line can help.


Supporting DTH Technology

Halco’s event, of course, spotlighted their products. But the company also invited other manufacturers. On site were representatives of CME, Throop Rock Bit and others.

Bo Sjölander of Central Mine Equipment demonstrated an in-shop machine for reconditioning worn bits.

“Big bucks are being spent on drill rigs and all the stuff around them,” Sjölander said, “and at the end of the day after all is said and done, it’s that drill bit — a relatively inexpensive thing at the end of that drill string — that is taking all that energy and putting it to use. ... It’s a very critical part of the whole process.”

Keeping bits properly maintained, he adds, extends their life and helps operators drill straighter holes with less deviation.

Also on hand was a representative of J.R. Kennedy Company, a custom welder and fabricator out of Tuscon, Ariz. Kennedy’s universal hammer bench helps customers break down and maintain DTH hammers right at the jobsite.


Improving, Expanding

Halco spent a few years on the Superior line from drawing board to launch. They put a lot of thought into how the hammer performs in oil and gas applications, particularly at the depths and conditions involved.

“We’ve been able to design and model the flow of air and lubrication inside the hammer, and we’ve seen in certain applications where you know that you’re going to have to pass a lot more air through the hammer,” Anderson said of DTH use by E&Ps. “You’re supplying more air than the hammer itself needs or can consume, and that’s to flush the hole.” It’s critical, he said, to return debris and other materials to the surface quickly, to keep the hole clean and ultimately spend less time on each casing project.

Halco is, naturally, proud of their new Superior line. But the company isn’t sitting still. The company’s Sherman facility has a pair of high-tech M-35 Millturn machines, which enable efficient, one-step manufacturing. They plan to invest in a larger M-60 Millturn, which will support further expansion of their U.S.-made product lines.

Halco has served drilling and blasthole markets for decades. A lot has changed since 1948, when the company was established in the United Kingdom. Truman was president and Bogart lit up the big screen in “Treasures of the Sierra Madre.” A lot has changed since 1989, when Halco acquired Dalby Tool Co., the Illinois company that became Halco America. The Berlin Wall opened up that year. More recently, Halco joined the Caterpillar family of brands in 2011.

Still, for Halco, not much has changed through all of this: The company maintains a strong name and reputation that drillers in mining, geothermal, water wells and energy have come to depend on.