Always happens – I start out, as early as possible after arriving in Kenya, to get started with a new well project. I arrive packed with hope for completing another well to provide life-giving water to those without – or with a long, laborious journey to retrieve. I visited the site on my first day in the South Coast, only one day after arriving in Nairobi, before flying to the coast. There is a lot of excitement about this well site. It is in a beautiful setting, high above the fertile valley, below. But there are problems. “Okay, so?” you ask “what else is new, Bob?” Ha! Yes, so true. If you read my previous blog, you know that we were making progress, even with the numerous breakdowns.
So yes, we overcame the broken sprocket – and, after some minor modifications, were able to get it working, whereupon we removed the PDC drill bit and replaced with the hammer, which worked amazingly well – for 1-1/2 days, before meeting it’s challenge in some extremely hard rock. Yes, the going became so slow, that I directed the team to remove the hammer and go back to mud drilling with the PDC bit. Now, keep in mind that this drill bit is 8”, whereas the hammer bit is 6”. So, for about 65 ft. we would first be reaming the 6” diameter hole to 8”. We had not done this before, so it was, indeed, all new to us. And yes, we are still relatively inexperienced here, in the many nuances of well-drilling. But we’re learning. Always learning. And very willing to try.
In this case, however, I was assured by Aron, our friend and benefactor at Ulterra, who so generously provided our 8” PDC bit. I reached out to Aron, before making this call, and he responded that “yes” we could do this and it should work. Well guess what? He was exactly right – Thank you, Aron. He told me we could do this, so we did. We reamed out the 65 +/- ft. in less than two hours and were soon drilling again, into virgin rock (hard, virgin rock) from 116 ft. And no, I’m not actually what geological period that fits!
So this was Monday. I was originally to leave the South Coast on Sunday. But I delayed my return until Tuesday, to be sure that the repairs were complete – and the drilling was back in progress. On a side note, on Sunday morning we all decided that we needed to drill, due to all of the down time in the past two weeks. Normally we NEVER work on Sunday, as we typically worship – and take one day off to rest – as ordained. But we decided to work – to try to progress the drilling further, before I was to leave. But before starting we had a short worship service (minus the praise band) to ask forgiveness and seek His mercy, in not worshipping properly. I choose to believe that God blessed our decision – since we did make progress – AND – we had no further breakdowns.
Prior to that, however, I made a side trip, back to our compound, from the Msulwa drill site – to retrieve my cell phone, which I had left in my car, back at the garage. Not that I planned on making that many calls. But I knew that I would need the camera function. Actually we met up with Peter, on the motor cycle while enroute to the site. Since I did not want to detain the team fom re-installing the sprocket – and knowing that Peter’s assistance was needed for this, we swapped vehicles and I drove the motor cycle back to get my phone.
This nearly became “The Motorcycle Diaries II” (inside joke for those who have actually read my book). While I did not come across any trees totally blocking the road, there was a myriad of difficult places to deal with, including thick layers of both dry and sometimes wet sand, as well as steep slippery slopes and deep – sometimes rocky and other times muddy – ditches. Through it all, I only went in the ditch twice, drove completely off the road once, and chased many an oncoming motor cycle driver off the road, or forced to stop – and wonder about this crazy mzungu. But hey, I didn’t flip it once and never even fell over. Thus, even though it was Sunday, and I was, obviously, not in church, God blessed my way, nonetheless, answering ALL of my many prayers for survival along the way.
No big deal, right? So, where are we on this well now, you ask? As of yesterday, Wednesday, Justin tells me that they reached 155 ft. It is still very hard and they are making only 15 to 20 ft. per day. But they are hitting more water. I expect to hear that they have completed by the time I reach Houston on Thursday afternoon (since it will be after midnight in Kenya).
As always, some photos.