Underground Construction - June 2020 - 20

22nd Annual Directional Drilling Survey
territory and continuing a steady recovery,
at press time, oil prices have only now
started flirting with a price point that could
make drilling - and pipeline construction
- justifiably profitable again. It remains to
be seen how long it will be before pipeline
projects can resume.
On the other hand, many in the large rig
market have been successful at acquiring
projects unrelated to pipelines. For a
Southwest contractor, "We learned years
ago - even during the pipeline boom - that
we should diversify. About half our projects
involve water, electric - even fiber - that
require a big rig for the job.
"We're certainly hurting from our oil
and gas work dropping off," the contractor

continued. "but we have enough work to
survive. That's why we worked so hard to
get into other markets."

Homebound
For small-to-medium rig owners and
operators, the telecommunications
industry, i.e. broadband, has only
experienced minor hiccups in work output
during the height of the coronavirus
pandemic. The build-out of 5G cell networks
had slight slowdowns in certain parts of
the North American markets, but fiber
construction overall rarely blinked an eye.
As many Americans have been forced
to work from home since mid-March,
broadband has never seen such high usage

Rig size (% of market)

2017

2018

60
51.9

2019

2020

Estimated

55.3 54.2 54.0

50
40
30.6 29.1 30.2 30.8

30
20
12.5 12.3 12.5 12.2
10

5.0

3.3 3.1 3.0

Jumbo
(more than 300,000
pounds/pullback)

Large
(100-300,000
pounds/pullback)

Mid
(40,000-100,000
pounds/pullback)

Mini
(under 40,000
pounds/pullback)

rates. Demand for internet and streaming
services have soared. Initial projections
from industry sources are that the workfrom-home trend - which, as a whole, has
worked quite well across the U.S. during
the pandemic - will continue as things
return to some semblance of normalcy.
Streaming entertainment services
also have seen a major boost in consumer
demand. The "new normal" will definitely
include even more demand for broadband
services; that means a steady dose of
fiber buildouts to homes, business,
medical facilities, etc.
Modern communications made
possible by broadband had already
unveiled a wealth of options and
opportunities to the average consumer.
With the coronavirus pandemic, the lid
on that box swung wide open, unleashing
demand for fiber opportunities not only
among businesses and the medical sector,
but a renewed push for home services,
as well.
Thus, the overall buildout of
communications services never seriously
slowed during the pandemic, to-date, so
telecom contractors, principally using
HDD, rarely saw an interruption in their
workloads. That trend should continue for
the foreseeable future.
"We've been doing as much updates and
replacement work as new installations,"
reported a Midwest contractor. "Typically,
we use HDD for new construction. While
we're still doing that, with so many people

Age of HDD Fleet
50

40

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019
36.8
31.9

30

31.3

31.0

33.0

T

34.6 34.6

26.2 26.2

25.0 26.0 25.8

22.8 23.2

25.9

T
a
o

20
14.0

12.8

14.3

13.2

13.7

10

10 years or greater

20

5-10 years

2-5 years

< 2 years

Ve
ill
Ve

JUNE 2020 | UConOnline.com

19-0196


http://www.UConOnline.com

Underground Construction - June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Underground Construction - June 2020

Contents
Underground Construction - June 2020 - FC
Underground Construction - June 2020 - IFC
Underground Construction - June 2020 - Contents
Underground Construction - June 2020 - 4
Underground Construction - June 2020 - 5
Underground Construction - June 2020 - 6
Underground Construction - June 2020 - 7
Underground Construction - June 2020 - 8
Underground Construction - June 2020 - 9
Underground Construction - June 2020 - 10
Underground Construction - June 2020 - 11
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Underground Construction - June 2020 - 20
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Underground Construction - June 2020 - IBC
Underground Construction - June 2020 - BC
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