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Drillers’ Classification System

Drilling Companies’ Classification System & Drilling Methods Used

Water Wells


Drillers’ Classification System and
Drilling Methods Used

Principle: The bore shall be constructed by a suitably qualified driller who possesses the appropriate experience and the relevant class of licence that the state or territory deem necessary.

Under the national system of licensing drillers, there are three licence classes and five endorsements for drilling construction methods.

The class of licence relates to the skill level required to construct bores in different types of aquifer systems, while the endorsements relate to the drilling and construction methods that a driller is licensed to use.

Drillers’ Classification System

Licence classes

Class 1: This licence is restricted to drilling operations in non-flowing
(sub-artesian) single aquifer systems.

Class 2: This licence, in addition to operating in Class 1 conditions, permits operations in
non-flowing (sub-artesian) multiple aquifer systems.

Class 3: This licence, in addition to operating in Class 1 and Class 2 conditions,
permits drilling operations in flowing (artesian) aquifer systems.

Drilling endorsements

Cable tool: permits drilling operations using cable tool or cable percussion drilling methods.

Auger: permits drilling operations using bucket auger,
hollow-stem auger, and solid-stem auger techniques.

Rotary air: permits drilling operations that use rotary drilling methods with air or foam as the drilling fluid. This endorsement also includes the use of down-hole hammers.

Rotary mud: permits drilling operations that use rotary drilling methods with water as the drilling fluid or
as the base for the drilling fluid.

Non-drilling rig: covers operations on water bores that do not use a drilling rig.
Endorsements for non-drilling methods include:

Washed down spears using water pressure


Hand dug holes and wells

Hand dug augers


NOTE: State and territory water authorities may also impose further
restrictions on licence classes and endorsements.

Required skills, experience, and abilities

Class 1 Licence:

The holder of a Class 1 Driller’s Licence must be capable and have the knowledge and skills,
as they apply to the drilling method endorsement, in:

The provisions of the legislation and regulations relating to groundwater
and groundwater drilling, and an understanding and appreciation of bore
construction licence application procedures and licence condition.

Siting a bore: recognising potential contamination sources for water supply bores,
and appropriately siting a bore to prevent contamination

Straightness and plumbness of the hole: setting up a rig, the causes of bent bores,
and the methods of hole straightening

Drilling: correctly choosing and using equipment, having regard to such factors
as rotational speed and proper annular velocities

Fishing: tool string inventories, fishing tools, and procedures

Formation sampling and description: obtaining representative
formation samples, and labelling and describing them

Bore design: designing and constructing bores for domestic use,
stock watering, groundwater monitoring, and
irrigation purposes in single aquifer systems

Construction: seating and sealing of casing, casing types,
their limitations and uses, methods of grouting casing, headworks design,
and completion of the bore site

Grouting: grouting surface casing and decommissioning
(abandoning) bores or test holes

Setting screens and gravel packs: selecting the appropriate slot size,
screen length, and diameter, and procedures for screen installation.
Selecting and installing a gravel pack

Bore development: basic knowledge of development techniques

Disinfection procedures: basic knowledge of disinfection procedures
and safe chemical disposal

Aquifer testing and water sampling: carrying out a single stage pumping test,
then determining and recording static water level, drawdown
and yield, taking and labelling a water sample

Decommissioning: designing and selecting appropriate materials
for the decommissioning of bores in single aquifer systems

Bore completion reports: correctly (and legibly) filling in a bore completion report.

Class 2 Licence:

The holder of a Class 2 Driller’s Licence must have the knowledge and skills required of a
Class 1 Driller, together with the knowledge and skills,
as they apply to the drilling method endorsement, in:

Bore design: designing and constructing bores in multiple aquifers,
with emphasis on designs and methods used to exclude unsuitable waters

Screen setting and gravel pack selection: skill in the design of
high yielding bores is required. This entails overcoming entrance velocity problems
and carrying out sand sieve analysis in order to select appropriate
gravel pack material and screens (i.e. screen length, diameter, and aperture)

Grouting: grouting casing; placing cement plugs over selected zones;
effect of cement additives; ability to calculate hole volumes, slurry volumes,
and specific gravities; hole preparation; casing installation; and circulation requirements

Aquifer testing: the procedures involved and data required
from a multi-stage pumping test

Decommissioning: designing and selecting appropriate materials
for the decommissioning of bores in multiple aquifers.

Class 3 Licence:

The holder of a Class 3 Driller’s Licence must have the knowledge and skills required of a
Class 1 and Class 2 Driller, together with the knowledge and skills,
as they apply to the drilling method endorsement, in:

Drilling fluids: methods, procedures, and calculations
required for formation fluid pressure control

Grouting: methods, procedures, and calculations
required in carrying out pressure cement jobs

Bore design: in aquifer systems that have high pressure conditions, design of efficient bores
(i.e. be able to carry out screen surface areas and diameter calculations)

Aquifer testing: the procedures for a flow recession test, static
and staged pumping test on flowing bores

Decommissioning: designing and selecting appropriate materials
for the decommissioning of bores having high pressure conditions.

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