Overseas Drilling

Romano being one for a challenge, didn’t confine his career within the boundaries of Australia. So it was no surprise when he jumped at the opportunity in mid 1996, to be involved on a drilling project in Ethiopia in conjunction with a local Australian aid organization.

His expertise was called upon for the planning, sourcing, shipping, assembling and commissioning of the project. He was also responsible for the production of a training/reference manual and finally to instruct/teach the local crew on the operation and maintenance of the drilling equipment. They were to learn all relevant factors in water well construction and pump installation for drought stricken communities.

In Ethiopia, Romano saw first hand the dire importance for the project to be a long-term success, as he not only witnessed but also experienced the relentless daily difficulties associated with obtaining water whilst living amongst the villagers.  The unforseen problems and technicalities to get that initial project up and running successfully cannot be mentioned in a single edition of this publication – but one can only imagine.

After months of dedication and awe-inspiring effort put into this project he had the great satisfaction of achieving the two final main objectives.  Firstly the positive impact every well commissioned had on community life and health because of the ease to access clean potable water. Secondly leaving a crew capable of running the enterprise of drilling and constructing water wells and installing appropriate pumps for various village needs. To date over 40 wells are operational to the benefit of over 50,000 people.

Romano’s reputation from that initial project soon saw his services in great demand and has been back and forth a number of times commissioning equipment and rigs, training staff, trouble shooting, writing reports and conducting appraisals on various projects around the country.

His most recent visit consisted of two projects –

The first....He commissioned an Atlas Copco RC-1000, Ethiopia's first wholly owned reverse circulation drilling machine. Part of the task was to train the crew and staff on the ins and outs of running a mineral drilling project, efficiently, productively and above all safely.

The second....This assignment was with a Government water well drilling crew up in northern Ethiopia adjacent to where the war has been raging for the past couple of years.

The crew were attempting to drill water wells for the displaced refugees due to the war. In this particular zone loose rubble and boulders presented enormous difficulties for well completion.

To date (over 13 months) only two productive wells had been completed out of nine attempts. Romano mobilized over the sites where completion (where no lost down hole tooling was present!!!!)was deemed impossible, he passed on skills and techniques with utilization of cement to assist in their well construction methods. To cut a long story short there was success all round, in the matter of days three productive wells were added to the bore field and the crew learnt skills that they would employ to increase their success rate for such conditions for many more holes to come.

On a lighter note, one ‘drill’ skill that Romano had to learn from the Ethiopians during the recent visit was the Air raid evacuation “drill”. Now that was one drill skill that he never had up his sleeve!

The impressions most of us have of Ethiopia is drought, famine, deserts, poverty, war, sickness, disease, bed bugs etc… However, throughout his experience, Romano speaks of immense volcanic mountain ranges and valleys, vast open plains and lush forests. To him Ethiopians are a very proud people, deeply religious with a rich culture dating back thousands of years to the time of queen Sheba. The love affair that Romano has forged with Ethiopia through his passion and dedication to drilling will endure for many more years to come.


Romano with some village children.

We assembled the drilling rig (Goldfields G-55 Speedstar) with the crew on my first trip to Ethiopia, the project was in the heart of the country, deep in the rift valley near Lake Ziway.

Its an interesting story to why we chose the percussion cable tool method and this drilling machine. Firstly the geology to be drilled (between 3 & 110 metres) was very soft cavernous volcanic Pumice/ash. A substance much to friable to be drilled with the modern techniques because of the complete loss of circulation either by air or mud virtually from the surface. Secondly, we had to keep the size and weight of the equipment down to a minimum because of the difficulty in site access and the limited capabilities of the transporting vehicle.

We had to commission a drilling machine that was easy to operate and required no great mechanical knowledge to be maintained or serviced.

The entire drilling outfit had to fit in a 20’ shipping container with all the support equipment .......now that was a real feat!!!!!!


This photo is of the Atlas Copco RC 1000. Here we are in the midst of the mineral drilling training program up in a place called Adwa in Northern Ethiopia. Only kilometres from the war that Ethiopia has been waging with their neighbouring country of Eritrea.

This part of the country is over 3000 metres above sea level. As seen in the background, the Northern Ethiopian landscape is currently undergoing a transformation. As new government policies are being implemented with the local people, in halting the devastating effects of droughts and soil erosion. They are extensively terracing the steep embankments prone to erosion, and reforesting the country with drought and fire resistant flora none other than the Australian Eucalyptus trees..... What next? Kangaroos and Koalas?


Bore Construction Licences

A Bore Construction Licence is valid for 12 months and must be obtained for any water bore of a depth greater than three metres.  For more information click here. For any further information please visit Southern Rural Water's website.

Contact Us


Phone: Romano Grande:  0408 102 051  Ron Gleeson: 0417 056 854

Email: jodie@borewell.com.au

Drillers: Romano Grande:   romanog@alphalink.com.au

              Ron Gleeson:  gleeso@bigpond.net.au