Horizontal Directional Drilling for Pipeline Construction

Pipeline Construction

Did you ever wondered how do these pipelines get under the ground? Well, the answer is simple; it’s Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD). A technique that allows you to dig deep for underground facilities installation or maintaining drainage systems, etc.

This pipeline construction is essential for oil, gas, and water transportation. And without HDD, installing pipelines in challenging areas with less environmental impact would be near impossible. To dive more into the advantages and applications of HDD, keep reading this blog post!

What is Horizontal Directional Drilling?

HDD is a helpful technique for ruling over traditional open-cut trenching for Boring Americans. Directional drilling is the preferred choice as it eases underground installation and is environmentally friendly. In simple terms, we can understand HDD as building a tunnel without disrupting the ground.

All you have to do is drill the ground horizontally from one point to another. It is considered a perfect alternative to the traditional digging method. It is a trenchless digging technique with no excavation. And the best part is that it allows the construction of underground facilities beneath roads, rivers, or buildings with minimal disturbance. Sounds like a perfect technique for urban areas, no?

How Does Directional Drilling or HDD Work?

Horizontal Directional Drilling or Directional Drilling involves several steps. From inspecting the area for suitability to testing the pipelines before approval: there are many steps in between we don’t know about. Let’s understand the working of an HDD in detail;


The first step in the HDD project is a site survey. Engineers assess the soil condition, terrain, and rocks and look for other potential obstacles. Engineers have innovative technology, such as; ground-penetrating radar and GPS technology, to gather crucial data. After careful inspection, they design a drilling plan.

Hole Drilling

Now that we’re done with the inspection and have a curated drilling plan, the drilling process starts! We have large machines called drill rigs, with a drill bit at the head that helps cut rocks and soil. Then along the predetermined path, we drill a small pilot hole.

The pipe is bored into the ground like a straw in a cup! Then the drilling fluid: a mixture of water of additives. It is pumped into the hole to keep the drill bit cool, lubricate and remove the cuttings.

Steering The Drill

To think of it, ensuring the drill remains in the right direction is difficult. But let’s clear this misconception first: the drill pipe does not rotate but only the drill bit at the front. Special tools (electronic devices at the site) help change the drill’s direction if needed. And naturally, the drilling mud provides energy to turn the angle.


Now that we have a pilot hole insert the pipeline. A machine (reamer) is attached to the end of the drill pipe. The purpose of this reamer is to enlarge the hole so that the pipeline can fit in.

Installing The Pipeline

After reaming process (enlarging the hole), the pipeline is attached to the reamer and pulled back into the drill path. This process requires careful control to avoid damage to the pipe. Once secured, the pipeline is connected to the existing network allowing the flow of liquids or gases.

The entire project is inspected and tested for its durability before approving it. Nonetheless, like any construction project, HDD has some safety concerns involved. The above working indicates the smooth working of HDD.

But we have seen an incident of HDD colliding with an existing underground facility. And some other scenarios of pipes getting stuck in the ground: both cases leading to fatalities. Therefore, a well-revised safety plan and training are necessary for operating HDD.

Advantages of HDD

Unlike traditional excavation methods, HDD offers a more convenient, trenchless way to install underground facilities. It has minimal impact on the environment and faster completion. Among other benefits, here are the five key benefits of Horizontal drilling.

Less Disruption

If minimizing environmental impact is part of your business plan, then HDD is the answer. The traditional open-cut method requires excavating large amounts of soil which can cause soil contamination.

Later, filling the roads back requires noisy types of machinery and leaves out CO2 fumes. But with Horizontal Drilling, there’s no need for digging at all. HDD is a noise-free and minimal damage way to modern society.


HDD uses durable pipes which last much longer underground. Consider it this way, when a line is safe from any element on the surface, doesn’t have to go under the bridge or over the building, they have a longer (untouched) lifespan.


As we said before, HDD is a faster way of pipeline installation, which also means less labor cost. Trenchless methods mean less dirt to replace the dig. Since HDD doesn’t disrupt the traffic, you don’t have to pay for the traffic management or compensate for the closed business.

And lastly, only a few permits are required for HDD saving you tons of application fees. With all this in mind and as the efficiency is evolving, the total cost is also running down hence more economical.

Flexible Drilling

Horizontal drilling (as the name suggests) offers flexibility and can drill in any direction and through any soil kind. The main idea behind its popularity is its ability for curved courses rather than acting on a straight line.

Along with steering the drilling bit advancement, HDD allows us to lay lines under roads, bridges, or more congested areas. The benefits of HDD are practical. Low impact preserving the beautiful society or the ability to drill through the toughest subsurface safely; HDD has gained its rightful reputation.


Horizontal Direction Drilling is a versatile and practical technology. This advanced construction method has made installing pipelines neat and easy. Safe to say that HDD is an efficient way to transport facilities such as natural gas or water without disrupting the natural beauty.

The curved trajectory feature allows us to drill through anywhere! With more advancement in the HDD steering sector, we can get a more precise drilling facility. So, the next time you see a pipeline going under the river, you will understand that only the fascinating HHD made it possible.