SWIFT CURRENT, Saskatchewan, Aug. - The modern day gold rush is deep in the ground - more than a mile down for oil and natural gas.
It's an energy bonanza for companies like Dynamic Heavy Haul, out of Swift Current, Saskatchewan, which moves temporary housing, platforms and oil rigs in a 200-mile radius of Swift Current. The company also handles about 20 percent of its loads in Alberta.
Started in 2006, by a group of life-long truckers, who all had oil field experience, Dynamic Heavy Haul has grown from 12 specialized rigs to 38 today. The equipment it runs must fit with the conditions it encounters.
"We run hell or high-water," said Eric Eckert, a partner and GM for the company. "In the 10 months we can operate (shutting down for part of April and May due to snow/ice break-up), we encounter temperatures of down to -40 degree Fahrenheit, to more than 100 degree Fahrenheit. And the roads go from pavement, to gravel to dirt trails cut by bulldozers. It's a demanding business. You need tough trucks and tough people."
Dynamic Heavy Haul runs a combination of Kenworth trucks, from the ultra, heavy duty C500 and C500 twin steers, to the Kenworth T800. Many of the trucks were purchased through Custom Truck Sales in Regina, Saskatchewan, and the last order of 12 trucks financed through PACCAR Financial.
"The equipment is all very specialized, and we work very closely with Custom Truck and Kenworth applications engineers on just the right specs," said Eckert. "We have versatile winch tractors, picker (crane) trucks and bed trucks that are used to carry disassembled rigs. Often times the equipment we put on the truck costs more than the chassis itself, so to us, it's critical to have a truck that is reliable and durable, can stand the test of time, and is comfortable to drive with excellent handling; a truck that drivers want to drive. In past companies I've worked for, we've seen drivers who didn't want to drive certain trucks due to their handling and comfort. And if you have an expensive work truck that no one wants to drive, that's disastrous."
According to Eckert, "our drivers are what we feel are the best in business; dedicated and professional - the cream of the crop. They love the Kenworths, and they're spec'd exactly the way we want them. We don't have to go to the aftermarket for add-ons." The big trucks start with Kenworth C500s configured with 40,000-lb tandem steer axles, which is also known as a Kenworth C550. These bed trucks carry the sub structure for the drilling platform and the derrick. A 65-ton winch pulls the sub-structure onto the truck and the gross load typically ranges from 150,000 to 180,000 pounds. A smaller 30-ton winch is also on the truck to handle smaller loads. Other C500s are tandem steer tri-drive trucks, equipped with 30- and 45-ton stiff boom pickers to hoist anything and everything on the oil lease. Several of the Kenworth C500s and T800s in the fleet are outfitted as tandem or tridem drives and are used as "prime movers" and/or winch tractors. "These are what actually haul and move the oil rigs down the road," said Eckert.
Depending upon the configuration, the Kenworth C500 twin steers and C500s are equipped with 500- to 600-hp Cummins engines. Many feature planetary drives, which gives added gear reduction on the wheel ends to reduce on the differentials and drivelines.
"Nobody can make a truck this big and this strong," said Eckert. "When we're making moves for an oil company, there is no excuse for downtime when setting up an oil rig and the support outbuildings. Too many people are waiting and too much money is at stake. The C500 and C500 twin steers are our workhorse trucks, transporting much of the equipment."
On the lighter, but hardly less brawny side of equipment, Dynamic Heavy Haul uses several Kenworth T800s, powered by Cummins engines rated at 550-hp and driven through 18-speed transmissions. "Many of the T800s have 4-speed auxiliaries - this gives us two additional lower gears and two higher gears," explained Eckert. "The two lower gears are what's vital when we start out in a crawl with our loads."
The T800 tractors, feature 30-ton winches and haul trailers carrying 100,000-plus pounds. "Some of these T800 winch tractors are rigged as "Texas Beds,'" said Eckert. "They're versatile enough to winch and tow, but also have a full-width live roller on the back as well as cross supports. The winch can draw cement or water tanks onto the bed, or move a drill house right on the back of the T800."
According to Eckert, the T800s and C500s are typically equipped with small sleepers - 38-inch AeroCab(R) and 42-inch modular. "They're not normally used," he said. "But they're there if we have a log book issue, or get stuck in a storm," said Eckert. "They're a good safeguard against the unexpected." In a typical move, Eckert said there are 12 trucks on a job - a combination of C500 twin steers, C500s and T800s.
"Forty buildings per site is the norm, and depending on the distance to the production site, it could be from four hours to two days for set-up," he said. "It takes about a week to drill a well, then, once that's completed and operating, the whole site is torn down, reloaded, and moved to the next well site. It becomes poetry in motion, and that motion can't stop. It's one reason we've been so successful - we take great care in buying, spec'ing and maintaining the best equipment out there."
Kenworth Truck Company is the manufacturer of The World's Best(R) heavy and medium duty trucks. Kenworth's Internet home page is at http://www.kenworth.com/. Kenworth is a PACCAR company.