Drilling company that rescued Chilean miners represented at expo

Members of the community were excited to meet employees of Center Rock Inc. at the North Central Gas Expo held Thursday in the old Walmart building in St. Marys. Rescue workers from the Berlin, Pa.-based company helped bring 33 Chilean miners to the surface Wednesday after months of drilling and preparation of a rescue shaft at the San Jose Mine in Copiapó, where trapped miners spent 69 days almost a half-mile underground after an Aug. 5 collapse brought down 700,000 tons of rock. Dan Stoner, sales manager of oil and gas for CRI, and Travis Mosholder, CRI sales representative, were at the expo to discuss future opportunities in the Marcellus Shale region, provide more information about their company and make contacts just like the other vendors and attendees, but they also found themselves discussing the mine rescue and the integral part their company played in bringing the Chilean miners to safety while the world watched. "People commented all day on it," Stoner said. "A lot of people stopped by to talk to us about it." Mosholder explained how his colleagues at CRI used their 12-inch down-hole air hammer CR 120 drill with a 12 and 1/4 bit to establish the initial drill hole, or "pilot hole," at the collapse site. That drill is what the company will be using at well sites in the Marcellus Shale region when operations get under way. During the rescue, CRI teams also used a 28-inch LP (low-profile) drill to widen and lengthen the drill hole to later accommodate a rescue capsule and other supplies. The LP drill is commonly used in deep bridge drilling to prepare for posts that must extend far underground to support and stabilize bridge structures. The men pointed out that the use of such a drill highlights how far the Chilean miners were trapped underground and the sheer amount of collapsed material that lay over them. "It was a life-and-death situation," Stoner said. He and Mosholder said they enjoyed talking to the people who stopped by their booth to commend them on their company and their colleagues. They expressed their own sense of pride for the actions of their fellow workers and their boss, CRI owner Brandon Fisher, who was on-site in Chile directing the drilling operation. "It was overwhelming," Stoner said. "They didn't go there to make money. They went there to save lives." Center Rock Inc. was established in 1998. The company and its employees also assisted with the 2002 rescue to free nine mine workers trapped in the Quecreek Mine not far from CRI headquarters.