It’s that time of year again: holidays, snow (at least for some of us), obnoxious amounts of food and family. It’s also time for National Driller’s annual roundup of our top 10 most popular stories of the year.

First, as usual, a big thank you to the readers who make National Driller what it is. You delivered again in 2018. Our average monthly page views for the year so far are up almost 8 percent over 2017. That’s a big deal for us, and helps as we try to attract more advertisers for our digital products. Of course, we’re not abandoning our print magazine. But it’s undeniable that the web plays a big part in the media landscape and you help us to be well positioned for now and into the future.

Next, a little explainer. This top 10 list covers only the stories we’ve published in the last 12 months. We have a lot of stories and columns that remain popular with readers years after we published them. Once we take those out, we get a pretty good idea of what you found interesting and informative this year. Counting down from 10, here are our top stories for 2018.

10. How Do Steel Tariffs Affect the Drilling Industry?

Drillers are surrounded by steel, whether it’s the rigs they use or the pipe the trip in and out. Steel tariffs made big news around the industry. In this cover feature from August, we took a look at what it all meant for contractors, distributors and manufacturers — the whole drilling supply chain.

9. Building a Lasting Drilling Business with Refurb

Managing Editor Alexis Brumm took a look at Bardstown, Ky.-based Rock Drilling, and how that company saved money refreshing their fleet. They turned two late-1980s T-4s into modern workhorses with the help of Brandeis Machinery. That company really started their focus on the “second lives” of production machines in 2012 by opening its Louisville Rebuild Center, which refurbishes and rebuilds a wide variety of construction, material-handling and mining equipment.

8. Calculating Fluid Volumes, Pressures for Horizontal Drilling

Speaking of workhorses, the folks at Cetco Drilling Products have shared their expertise with National Driller readers for years. The rotating roster of authors for their Drilling Fluids column each brings insights informed by the projects and people they work with in the field. In this column, Technical Sales Manager Mario Brunet discusses tips for understanding the fluid requirements for HDD jobs.

7. Geothermal Heat Pump Tax Credits Reinstated

The precarious position of tax credits for geothermal installations got a lot of attention during 2017, even making last year’s top 10 list (at number two, no less). When those credits were restored in a continuing resolution spending bill early in 2018, the geothermal industry was jubilant. Now, geothermal drillers don’t have to worry about the credits expiring again until Jan. 1, 2022.

6. What Are the Limits of PVC Drilling Pipe?

Columnist Wayne Nash is a perennial (and irreverent) reader favorite. In this March column, he takes a look at the pros and cons of PVC casing for domestic wells. If you’ve always wondered about the phrase "modulus of elasticity," go ahead and give it a read.

5. You Know the Drill: Drilling Business Puts Family First

Our You Know the Drill feature is also popular with readers for a reason: Its simple format — the same questions each month put to a wide range of industry folks — can yield some surprisingly interesting answers. In the October edition, Managing Editor Alexis Brumm spoke with Martin Funk of Funk Drilling Company in Coeburn, Va., about the importance of family to the small contractors in the drilling industry.

4. Field Testing a New Wireline Coring System

This August submission from Mila Armer explores a job by National EWP, which was trying out a new wireline coring system from Epiroc. National crews liked what they saw in shorter trip times.

3. What if a Water Well Doesn’t Clear During Development?

Another popular entry from columnist Wayne Nash. In this column, he talks about troubleshooting well development in gravel-pack wells.

2. How Do Drilling Rig Derricks Work?

What? Three in the top 10 from Wayne Nash? He must be on to something. In this June column, he lays out the basics of how derricks work — including different designs and the reasoning behind those designs. Readers love back-to-basics articles.

1. Tips for Successfully Using Foam on Drilling Jobs

Driller-at-large and donkey herder (go ahead, ask him) Brock Yordy has done a lot of good work for National Driller for years. In this submission from February, he breaks down foam drilling to its basics. “Foam is a tool that every driller should have in their toolbox,” he says. If you don’t, click through to find out why you might need to consider it.

Well, there you have it, 2018’s most read stories on If you missed one of these popular stories, or just want to reread one, click away. Don’t forget to share your favorites by emailing links to friends and coworkers, or posting to social media. We look forward to serving readers with more news and views from the drilling industry in 2019 and beyond.

Stay safe out there, drillers.