As gas prices increase, ground thaws and road restrictions are lifted, activity in the oilfield is likely to pick up. And a new company to the Minot area is poised to take advantage with its services.
Badger Daylighting of North Dakota has been in operation since Oct. 18, 2008, with a shop in Plaza and its offices based in Minot.
Rita K. Paige, office manager at Badger, said Thursday that business is "very good" and getting better all the time.
Paige said Badger started in August 2008 with one truck, then added trucks in October and March.
"As of two weeks ago, we now have four trucks," she said.
An international franchiser, Badger calls itself North America's largest provider of non-destructive excavating services, with its corporate headquarters based in Calgary, Alb. Badger's Minot franchise is owned by David Reum.
"Daylighting" is a term given to the process of "uncovering and exposing of underground utilities and pipelines to the daylight," according to Badger's Web site at (www.badgerinc.com). Badger utilizes a process known as hydroexcavating, which utilizes pressurized water combined with a positive-displacement vacuum system. The flexibility this process provides in the field allows it to be utilized even on frozen ground, according to the company. The entire system is combined into a mobile excavation unit, a portable, self-contained truck that can move quickly from job to job.
In hydroexcavation, water is injected into the ground at high pressure via a handheld wand to wash dirt away from the underground infrastructure, then vacuumed out simultaneously. The resulting slurry is stored in a tank on the mobile unit for disposal.
This method provides significant advantages over traditional backhoe excavation, Badger says, by minimizing potential to disturb surrounding ground and damage to underground utilities.
"A lot of the pipeline companies like them because they will not break a line like a normal excavator can," Paige said.
Paige said one of Badger's advantages lies in the ability to collect solids "where a lot of the other ones cannot." Side-by-side comparisons against competing vendors have invariably shown Badger's superiority, she said.
Badger had 12 employees as of Thursday, but Paige said she would be hiring two to four "in the next day or so if I can find them," she said with a laugh.
"For the most part, we have really good guys working for us. I'd hate to lose any one of them at this point we've gone through the trials and tribulations, and weeded out the bad ones. They're getting about 20 or 30 hours of overtime every week. They're loving it right now.
In addition to more workers to run the trucks, Paige hired Beth Kelly about a month ago to help handle duties in the office, located at 1829 S. Broadway. Badger is currently searching for a more permanent home for its Plaza shop location.
"We are in the process of looking for a building, and/or site and/or to build before the winter coming up," Paige said. "That's an issue right now, but I hope to have it resolved in the next 10 days or so.
"Just so there's a home base for the trucks."
Paige said a Williston satellite office is also in preliminary consideration.
"When we first started, we did a lot of oilfield stuff," she said. "We still do, but now it's a lot of pipelines because a lot of companies make it mandatory to use a hydrovac truck and/or vac truck."
Paige said Badger is likely to acquire a fifth truck within the next month or so. In fact, Badger's biggest problem right now is that it is expanding so quickly, it is a challenge just to keep up. Badger can be contacted at 340-6725.
"We can pretty much go anywhere," she said. "Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota I don't think we want to go any farther than that."
"We'll need a bigger office," Kelly quipped as both laughed.