Viking & the Panama Canal: What It Means To Contribute to Projects All Over the World

When I sat down for an interview with Dando Drilling’s Rupert Coler a couple weeks back for an upcoming feature in National Driller Magazine, I had no way to know just how important the depth of our interview would end up being. It’s not like I was asking boring, stock questions, but at the same time, I had questions prepared that surely wouldn’t shock or turn the drilling industry on its ear. I figured we’d be talking strictly about the unique specifications of our SPT Auto Hammer and how it’s meshing with the Dando Multitec 4000 being put to work to widen the Panama Canal.

Just repeating that back, it does seem standard, right?

But as Rupert went into further detail about the client using the Multitec 4000 rig, the Universidad técnica de Panamá, it started to become obvious that this isn’t simply another drilling project.

This is a gigantic undertaking that’s literally changing the shape of the planet.

Helping The People on the Ground

Taking samples next to one of the country’s most important facilities, the University, demonstrates a reality we wrote about a while back – that drilling is about people first and the economy second. The widening of the canal and improvements made to its adjacent ports is about more than the increased amount of cargo that will be able to pass through, it’s about the people living in Panama that will immediately benefit from the improved infrastructure.

And because of the implications to nations that also depend on the viability of the canal, it’s about people all over the world who will be affected in some small way by this project.

And Viking West is playing a part in the development.

Improving an Icon: The Panama Canal

Looking at pictures of a Viking West attachment being used beneath the shadow of the Bridge of the Americas, I’ll admit – it’s a thrill. This project, which has been taking place for the better part of a decade, includes building a new set of locks on both the Pacific and Atlantic sides of the passage. The Panama Canal is one of history’s greatest industrial achievements, a project shared by, and argued over, by nations all over the world.

And it’s almost done.

The project includes building gigantic locks which allow even greater ships to pass through the country. Although Viking West has a relatively small part to play in the project, the fact our Auto Hammer is a key component in the process is undeniably a badge of honour.

Here’s a quote from Rupert from the upcoming National Driller article on the specifics of the Dando multipurpose rig being used:

“(3P Sociedad Limitada Ingenieria Civil) decided on the Multitec 4000 and we fitted Viking’s SPT hammer on our carriage system which allows us to do SPT and driven window and window-less sampling. There was some HQ wireline coring as well, so the rig needed to wear a lot of hats, so to speak.”

Contributing to a Global Economy

Life in the drilling industry involves some, should we say, non-exciting aspects. However, some of the least interesting components of a rig or a location are the most important. It’s the simplest pieces that hold the most important projects together.

There’s always more to a story, particularly one surrounding something as important as improving geological infrastructure on one of our planet’s greatest accomplishments to date.

In the end, we’re just happy to be part of improving it just a little further.

Stay tuned to our LinkedIn profile next month for our interview with Dando Drilling’s Rupert Coler.

A Focus on Mining: Previewing the 2016 PDAC Convention

The mineral exploration and development industry is poised to expand in 2016. If the expected attendance at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention coming up in March is any indication, people in the mineral exploration and development industry are more motivated than ever to look for solutions.

While PDAC represents Canada’s interests primarily, 2016’s convention will welcome prospectors, geoscientists, consultants and mining executives from all over the world.

And Viking will be one of them.

I caught up with Viking West’s Kevin Reimer to preview the conference and get his thoughts on teaming up once again with Dando Drilling International.

Kelvin: The PDAC Convention is rooted in a rich history of Canadian mining exploits. What does it mean to present at this year’s show?

Kevin: It’s always a great opportunity to meet new people and learn how things are done in their corner of the industry, whether it’s customers or suppliers working in mineral exploration. People from all over the world attend, over a hundred countries come to this show. The sheer volume of people from every niche in the industry that attend is what’s great about it, it’s a fantastic opportunity. There’s everything from large mining corporations to small drilling contractors to individual mining engineers – you get a huge range of clientele coming. Precious metals, mining and mineral development – these are areas we don’t always get to dive in to on a daily basis, so we’re excited to get there and of course team up with our friends from Dando Drilling. 

This is the second convention Viking has attended in the last couple months – what are you looking to achieve at PDAC?

We’re looking to promote Viking’s product line relating to drilling and also our Dando distributorship in North America. Groundwater Expo had 5000 people attend, this one will be 20,000 plus. The projects we’re looking at here are a higher value, they’re multimillion dollar projects so they tend to be longer and more expensive. There’s more money involved in mineral exploration. It’s not as connected to oil extraction. These companies are drilling for coal, copper, zinc, gold. There is energy drilling as well, but this particular show is focused on mining specifically and mineral exploration. There’s some high profile companies on hand, such as Barrick Gold, Rio Tinto, Goldcorp; so that’s exciting.

What are you bringing to PDAC?

We’re bringing the Dando Terrier Rig. We brought it to the Groundwater show as well, but the focus here will be a bit different. Whereas Groundwater was related more with environmental awareness and sustainability, this show is specific to mining and mineral exploration, so it will be cool to demonstrate the Terrier’s versatility. We’re ramping up our attention on the mining sector this year and this show will obviously help that cause. 

The PDAC aims for a prosperous Canadian mineral exploration and development industry. How does this align with Viking West’s value by design mission?

A key component of this convention will be safety. Bigger mining corporations put a higher focus on operator safety, which isn’t to say smaller companies don’t, it’s just that these larger ones have more people working and more operations to pay attention to. That can be a tall order. Mining has always led the way when it comes to designing new safety measures, and the Terrier’s specs fall right into that mould. From the safety cage to the design – it’s a very compact, limited-access drill, and operation is simple and straight-forward. You’d use this drill for exploration drilling, you can take it high into the mountains or the jungle. It’s very capable, lightweight, powerful and has a light footprint. This is the machine you would use for exploration drilling when developing a property. 

What are the dates and details? How can people easily come visit you?

We’ll be in Toronto for the convention March 6th – 9th, and people can visit us in booth 6235N.

Looking for more details on the Dando Terrier?

Dando Dual Mast Terrier

The Dando Dual Mast Terrier has been designed to use a wide range of drilling techniques in the same borehole.

See the Dando Dual Mast Terrier specs

Dando Terrier Rig

The compact, versatile Dando Terrier rig has been designed specifically for sampling and testing for geotechnical and environmental analysis.

See Dando Terrier Percussion features

Dando Terrier Rotary

The rotary mast attachment for the Dando Terrier extends the rig’s range of use to include continuous flight and hollow stem augering, tricone & drag bits and rotary core drilling as well as DTH hammers.

See Dando Terrier Rotary specs

3 Things We Love About Creating Attachments for OEM’s

Friendly reminder: you only have a couple days left to buy flowers, chocolates or something shiny for that special someone in your life. Don’t forget!

Take it from us, there’s nothing better than a surprise on Valentine’s Day. That’s why, despite our constant worry we’ll forget to go to the flower shop after work tomorrow, we can’t help but think of all the things we love about working in the drilling, construction and forestry industries.

No, we don’t plan on giving a box of custom tooling products to our partners, although a shiny new core bit welded on top of a ring might just…

Ok maybe not.

In honour of the special day, here’s three things we love about making attachments for OEM’s.

1. The Creative Design Process

Why did you initially enter the field in which you work? Our experience goes back a long way before the creation of Viking West a couple years ago, and a lot of it was because of our passion for the simple act of making new things. Technology, whether it’s considered sophisticated or simple and clever, has gifted us the ability to leverage our engineering expertise to create attachments and products that are useful to our industry.

There’s nothing like the look on a customer’s face when they use a brand new product for the first time, especially when it’s accompanied by a bouquet of fresh flowers. (Ok, that last part doesn’t actually happen, just king sure you don’t forget.)

2. Unique Customers

Another element we love about our work is meeting interesting new people. When we travelled to Las Vegas for the Groundwater Conference in December of 2015, we were blown away by all the intelligent, hard-working people with whom we spoke.

It was so refreshing to meet people working harder than ever to right the ship in light of the current economic turbulence. Our industry was built on innovation, and we love the fact that this spirit is burning brighter than ever.

Here at home in our day to day operation, we’re simply appreciative of the fact we get to work with unique customers. Everyone requires something a little bit different, and we enjoy the new challenges with which we’re faced. It makes the work exciting, especially when we ship a brand new attachment out the door with a customer’s unique branding. Just like receiving a box of chocolates, if the box had a custom logo welded to the lid!

3. Helping People

What’s the driving force behind your job? Service? Quality? We operate by those tenets every day, but ultimately our work is all about creating attachments that help people. Valentine’s Day is all dependant on relationships, and for a workplace or office, it’s the professional relationships you create with clients and customers that truly count. Every company in the lower mainland, all over North America and truly all over the world does better business when they cultivate their relationships with customers.

Empathy is the driving force. If you put yourself in your customer’s shoes and better understand their perspective, you’ll have an easier time finding creative ways to save costs, time, and energy.

Efficiently taking care of your responsibilities is one thing, developing your passion for the work is another element entirely. When you love what you do, not only is it easier to drive to work every day, but others take notice of that passion as well. Sure, not every day is wine and roses, but committing to the big picture and working towards internal goals as well as customer checkpoints is its own reward.

Especially when there are some flowers and candy involved.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!

Why Drilling Will Always Be About People First, Economy Second

Last month we had the pleasure to attend the Groundwater Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada. As a relatively young company (the age of our company, of course, and not the ages of its people!) creating attachments for equipment manufacturers all over the world, we found ourselves short on experience in these situations representing Viking West. Sure, we’ve worked in and around the drilling, construction and forestry industries for decades, but a lot of that time was spent before the price of a barrel of oil plunged beneath $40.

That’s why it was so refreshing and exciting to see the ambition and dedication of so many people on the floor at Groundwater.

Read our official review of the conference.

Drilling For Water

We work in a valuable industry that has ebbed and flowed with the needs of the people for centuries. Even crude instruments and tools used hundreds of years ago served a purpose; typically drilling underground for fresh water sources.

In fact, Dando Drilling International, based in London, England and with whom we’re now partnered to distribute equipment in North America, was created to build equipment to drill for water following a cholera outbreak in 1867.

Water is the lifeblood of humanity, and at the risk of coming off a little strong, it’s the most important resource on our planet.

The Impact on the Land

Drilling requires disturbance of the land. Trees often have to be removed and the earth is broken to retrieve the resources contained beneath, such as water or oil. There’s no denying this impact, but it’s necessary to serve the economy.

And it’s that economy that serves the people. These days there are thousands of people all over North America and beyond who are being let down by that economy, and it’s a harsh reality we’re forced to deal with. Below the surface of the earth are minerals, metals, and fluids that are shaped to serve the population, and not the other way around. If the economy didn’t need these substances, if people didn’t need these substances, then we’d leave it in the ground.


There are millions of jobs all over the world that depend on the heavy energy sector and the oil and gas industry. Humanity is advancing by leaps and bounds in spite of the oversupply of oil. There are intelligent people everywhere searching for new solutions and creating innovative equipment to advance society.

Inside every oilfield machine, behind every drill and at every command post in the field, there’s a person working hard to provide for themselves and their families.

We’re not just drilling for oil, we’re drilling for the future.

The future of the people.

When it comes to the downturn in oil prices, the stories not being told are of those companies operating at a loss, yet keeping people employed. It’s not always realistic, but the people looking for alternative solutions so that the people in our industry can come through these dark times unscathed are those who will write the next set of rules.

As the economy struggles, people working in the drilling and heavy equipment industry will have to work smarter, not harder. However, people will survive without a strong economy, but the economy is nothing without people.

So let’s take care of each other first, and worry about the economy second.