For many oilfield-drilling projects, the engineering and drilling sides of the operation are handled by two different entities. This is because the majority of drilling contractors don’t have in-house engineering expertise, and the majority of engineering firms don’t have their own drilling rigs. GroundForce geoDrilling Solutions was founded on the idea that one firm can provide a complete solution for both sides of an oilfield or mining project, and President and COO Rodney Tetreault says this has been the primary factor that has fueled the company’s growth.
Tetreault founded the company with CEO David Hawkins specifically to provide a one-stop provider to the oil and gas industry. Both Tetreault and Hawkins brought a wealth of experience and expertise to GroundForce. Hawkins spent more than 15 years in the oilfield services industry before starting GroundForce, serving in a variety of executive and leadership positions. Tetreault is a registered engineering technologist who has spent more than 20 years in the marketplace with a career path that includes engineering, drilling foreman, drilling superintendent, drilling manager and founding and operating a small oil and gas engineering firm. Rod’s experience from the ground up has provided the foundation for the company’s holistic approach to integrating project management with in-house drilling expertise.
Based in Calgary, GroundForce provides drilling and related services to oil and gas, geothermal and mining customers. Tetreault says the majority of the company’s customers are junior to mid-sized companies who are looking for a partner that can provide drilling and all associated needs. That being said, GroundForce was recently contracted by one of the largest global mining companies to provide the full turn-key project management and drilling/coring package. Big or small, GroundForce has the capacity, experience and resources to make the program a success.
“We compete between the drilling companies and the engineering companies,” he says. “In essence, we provide both.”
TurnKey Full Service Model
The company’s combination of engineering expertise and drilling capabilities gives GroundForce a real advantage when dealing with prospective customers because it gives them a single point of contact for a complete suite of services related to drilling. Tetreault says that begins with the company’s fleet of eleven rigs, which are owned entirely by the company. “We own it all; we’re not just subbing out a rig or getting a third-party rig,” he says. “That’s a service model that no one else brings to the table.”
Tetreault elaborated on the service model, saying, “The drilling rig is the queen bee of any drilling operation. Having the rig as part of the project management package, GroundForce can control not only the culture as well as everything around the operations to insure the left hand knows what the right hand is doing. There is a real fit to having the rigs as part of the project management package, as we want to get involved with the project, provide input and work together with our customers to make sure that the project is efficient, safe and successful. By bringing the equipment and the project management together in one package makes for a higher level of accountability and continuity, a value-added proposition to any drilling program.”
The company’s fleet gives GroundForce the capabilities to perform a wide range of drilling services for oil, gas and mining customers, including horizontal/vertical drilling, slant drilling, large-diameter casing, coring, pre-setting and shallow gas drilling. Presently in the design stage, GroundForce is building a SAGD slant to add to its diverse fleet inventory.
The company says its internal engineering expertise also plays a major role in a fast-growing mining sector – potash. GroundForce provides full turn-key options for both solution and shaft design potash mines. Using their extensive drilling knowledge and experience, the company offers a complete range of drilling services from exploration drilling/coring to freeze lines and cavern development. With the inclusion of GroundForce’s Ground Water Solutions division, potash operators can rely on our qualified technicians to remedy issues around ground water control.
GroundForce has also established a new division that specializes in commercial geothermal or geoexchange drilling. “We bring a new perspective to the geothermal market with the size and capabilities of our equipment with the work ethic of the oilfield. This market brings another opportunity for our engineered approach to drilling to streamline the process and reduce redundancies on the construction site. GroundForce can provide design, FTC testing, drilling, and ground heat exchanger installations for major commercial geothermal projects. GroundForce is also currently in negotiations with a geothermal electrical energy company to provide investigative drilling on two potential sites in Northern British Columbia.
Along with the company’s strong focus on engineering expertise and drilling capabilities, GroundForce says its adherence to the highest possible safety and environmental standards is another clear advantage. The internal culture of the company is built around ensuring that everyone involved in its day-to-day operations understands the responsibility they have to themselves, their co-workers and to the customer.
“All employees, from the CEO to the newest person on the job, are responsible for the prevention of incidents, and it is only as a team that we are able to achieve zero incidents,” the company explains. “A safe work environment is gained with positive attitude, education, leading by example and the ability to teach others.
Despite the rapid growth of the company and the overall increase in drilling activity, GroundForce geoDrilling Solutions has managed to continually improve on its health and safety stats. The company is operating at 20 percent below industry standards in regard to its WCB rate. “Under the careful eye of our environment, health and safety manager, we will continue to put our workers first,” the company says. This philosophy was evident in a recent COR audit, in which GroundForce scored an impressive 96 percent.
GroundForce’s environmental, health and safety manager has more than a decade of experience as a manager in the health and safety field. “This experience combined with the knowledge, training and eye for detail has set GroundForce apart from the competition,” the company says. “The organization as a whole has embraced the culture of safety and respect for our workers and customers which has been critical to addressing the growth and diversification that the company is experiencing.”
GroundForce’s effectiveness can be seen in some of the company’s most recent projects in the oil, gas and mining sectors. These include work for Suncor Canada, for whom GroundForce has returned for a second winter drilling season. The company is supplying pre-setting, drilling and coring services. Rig 8 has proven to be effective in pre-setting for Suncor’s SAGD program, drilling 661-milimeter holes to 80 meters, according to the company.
GroundForce also was contracted to provide full turn-key project management services – including the drilling and exploratory coring – for a new potash mine in Central Saskatchewan. The fact that the program was completed with no incidences or time-loss injuries while enduring temperatures of -40 degrees is a testament to the abilities of GroundForce’s crews and the oversight of its health and safety personnel, the company says. In projects such as these and many others, the company says Ryker Oilfield Hauling Ltd. has been a valuable partner.
More To Offer
Tetreault says the biggest challenge for GroundForce at the moment is that the oil sands market has slowed down some and the competition is fierce. However, because the company continues to focus on providing an integrated, cradle-to-grave approach to project management, GroundForce believes it has the pieces in place to remain at the forefront of the industry.
“We’re more of a one-stop shop,” Tetreault says. “We bring more bang to the table.”