KLR Ethio Water Well Drilling PLC opened for business in 2005 with the intention of becoming a new player in the water well drilling business in Ethiopia. As KLR’s General Manager Fekadu Debalkie Alemayehu put it, “There’s a lot of opportunity here.”
Fekadu said, “We are a country of 80 million people. Of those, 85 percent are farmers.” A drive through the country presents one farm after another, closely knit family units of thatched-roof huts. Many homes are surrounded by happy children playing and people working outside.
The perfect weather here enjoyed by the local farmers hasn’t escaped the eye of the world’s developed countries, either. Corporate mega-hector farms have a strong presence in Ethiopia.
Much of central Ethiopia’s climate is never too cold nor too hot. Fekadu pointed out, “It rains here three months of the year, so we have abundant ground water. We’ve got plenty of water both for farming and for the people.”
The country has a definite need for water for municipal, industrial and domestic customers. With people moving from the country to cities, daily water consumption in the cities is growing. And farm operations, both big and small, need water to keep up production in order to feed the people.
Choosing the Atlas Copco T3WDH
KLR has purchased two Atlas Copco T3WDH drill rigs with 70,000 pounds force of pullback (95 kN). The T3WDH gives them the mobility to go wherever needed, in cities or off-road rural work, and also the strength to bore deep, large diameter, large capacity wells.
Most of the work the company is doing is in the 656-feet (200 m) depth range. Various cities throughout the country will have an average of two wells, but some have up to 14.
In the last year and a half they have drilled 49 wells of a 71-well contract. They hope to get another 20 wells drilled in the next two months before the annual rains begin, bringing the drilling season to a close.
Although the specifications change slightly depending on the geology, the wells have a general construction design. The top 32 feet (10 m) is drilled to 17 inches (432 mm) diameter and cased with 14-inch (355 mm) casing. This is drilled with a tricone bit, and KLR has various cutter styles to fit the formations. Then the hole will be drilled to total depth at 12 inches diameter and cased with 8-inch (203 mm) steel casing. The company uses an Atlas Copco QL80 hammer with carbide button bits.
The wells KLR has drilled average a flow rate of 8 gallons per second (30 L/s). In the driest regions in the north of Ethiopia the flow rate can be as low as 4 gallons per second (15 L/s) in these 12-inch (305 mm) wells.
A joint operation
KLR is owned by Hagbes PLC, Atlas Copco’s distributor in Ethiopia. This relationship works well for KLR because Hagbes offers services and maintenance capabilities to the smaller company. Currently Hagbes has three service facilities in Ethiopia, but only one is dedicated to rig maintenance.
Hagbes’s Sales and Marketing Manager Abayou Sitotaw said Atlas Copco rigs are larger than other brands commonly sold in Ethiopia. Hagbes supports all brands with tooling and compressor needs, too.
Hagbes Sales Engineer Dejene Adugna said there are lots of companies selling consumables, but Hagbes offers Atlas Copco quality products that customers see as a value for both reliability and cost. “Often our customers are drilling long distances from population centers. If you’re 400 miles (640 km) from Addis Ababa, it’s important to have quality,” he said.
In addition to maintenance technicians, Hagbes’ ownership helps KLR with other professional services such as logistics, procurement and accounting so the company can focus on drilling.
KLR drilling Supervisor Mulgeta Banteyirga said his group has a focused goal—drilling. “We need to concentrate on the target and do what we can. Our goal is to be a successful leader in the drilling business in Ethiopia.”
Fekadu defines three types of water wells needed in Ethiopia. First are shallow wells in the 330- to 490-foot (100 to 150 m) range that are mostly hand-pump wells or small, rural wells. These are for private customers, though primarily on government or non-governmental organization contracts.
Second are the mid-sized wells in the 490- to 985-foot (150 to 300 m) range for commercial, agricultural, industrial and municipal use.
Last are deeper wells in the 985- to 2,620-foot (300 to 800 m) range. The deepest municipal water well is a 1,970-foot (600 m) well in Addis Ababa.
Today KLR has many municipal wells on the docket, but the government is looking for large diameter irrigation wells, also.
KLR Operations Manager Ourgie Zeleke, said he doesn’t see a slowdown in business anytime soon.
Zeleke is very happy with the operation of the Atlas Copco rigs. He said, “In all the holes we’ve drilled we’ve not had a problem with the Atlas Copco rigs. Any issue we’ve had is minor. The rigs are working great.”
Fekadu is happy with the rigs, too, but also with the relationship with Hagbes and with the opportunity for his country. The government offers tax-free operation to drilling companies coming into the country because it’s so important to increase drilling. “We need more drillers and having a support system like this is good for our future.”