Buer Well Drilling was contacted in 2005 by employees of Innotec Group for assistance with a well drilling project in N.W. Nigeria. Some hardworking Christian Reformed businessmen had procured a drilling rig in North America and shipped it to Nigeria for Christian Reformed Missionaries to use to drill water wells and we agreed to help with the project. The area of Nigeria where we work is 100 Kilometers south of the Sahara Desert and the local communities are in desperate need of clean water. Before 2005 there were some wells drilled by Lambert Hunse (a volunteer from Ontario) and a resident missionary named Larry VanZee, but the desire of the participating mission organizations was to see the rig operating year around with a professional crew to utilize the rigs potential and to engage locals in a drilling business. Jeremiah Yongo (a veterinarian by trade) was recruited from the Jos area of Nigeria to organize the drilling project, learn how to operate the drilling rig, a find some local young men to train as well drillers.

Water Wins: Africa

After visiting Nigeria in 2004 the Innotec team of Doug Tubergen & Pete Lanser were excited to adopt the drilling project and bring their business skills to the team but they also needed some well drilling expertise. Steve Buer from Buer Well Drilling was contacted to help and after agreeing to a trip to Nigeria Steve came back excited to help this young drill team become successful. Steve, along with Buer Well Drilling employees, have made multiple trips to Nigeria since 2005 and are committed to assisting the Nigerian team as they develop into a self funding operation. Our job is to train the Nigerian drilling crew on-site and support the drill team from the States with parts shipments and advice. We adopted the name WaterWins for our team and the combination of several Innotec employees, Buer Well Drilling employees, Partners Worldwide, faithful individual supporters and churches from around the world, a very hardworking Nigerian team, and a big God who makes it all work, have made this a very successful water project. The drill team averages 15 to 40 wells drilled a year and completes them with hand pumps. With over 400 active wells in the area our service team makes sure the wells are all still in service and works with communities to develop a maintenance plan. Along with water we are involved in sanitation/hygiene, evangelism and planting churches, community development, elementary school, and justice issues as we work to help the local communities help themselves. We invite you to learn more about this project at and welcome you to join us in this life giving adventure.

Water Wins Article from MGWA


It’s shortly after noon, and the thermometer is reading well over 100 degrees in the shade. That’s pretty hot for a couple of well drillers from Michigan who a few days ago were trudging through 2′ of February snow. We have to be careful not to get burned leaning against the metal frame of the Bucyrus Erie 20W we are repairing, it’s hot! We are busy re-bushing the Main Winch drum and the Sand Line drum, along with a multitude of smaller repairs. Our goal, as with drill rigs anywhere, is to turn our clattering, sloppy rig back into a smooth running, dependable machine. We are side by side lifting, pounding, and grunting with our Nigerian drill crew on the old rig and by the end of the day we are all covered in black grease from the cable rig gears. We notice working together, Nigerians with Americans, racial and language differences don’t matter by the end of the day when we’re tired, sweaty, covered in grease, and pleased with what we’ve accomplished. We’re halfway thru a three-day maintenance marathon and we Michigan boys are drinking water like it’s going out of style. 



Back to Water Wins: Africa

Today we are contemplating how to deal with a worn sand line friction pulley that is barely dragging a full bailer out of the borehole. Our problem is two-fold, we aren’t that excited about pulling the jackshaft from the rig to make this repair, and our spare friction pulley was lost in transit. Buckeye doesn’t ship parts to Nigeria, so we need to come up with of a plan. After studying the friction pulley for a while I realize our problem is not a lack of friction material, our problem is the sand line drum is hitting against the two outer metal rings that secure the friction pulley between them, because the friction pulley is so worn. Metal on metal is not a good situation for friction pulleys. After some pondering we conclude that grinding down the metal rings on the ends of a spinning friction pulley while the rig is running would expose enough friction material to be able to finish out the drill season. Our crazy idea works and a day and half later the rig is back in the field nicely banging away at the bedrock searching for precious clean water. Such is the life of a driller in Africa. There are plenty of laborers to accomplish a repair, but getting the parts you need, that is the eternal challenge. In Africa you need the mindset your Grandfather had. “Fix it with what you have because either you cant find new parts or can’t afford them”. If you adopt that “can do” attitude and learn to live without factory support and DHL for a while, you will enjoy the challenges of drilling in developing countries and we would encourage you to try it if you haven’t already. 


Our first borehole after making rig repairs didn’t go so well, we hit bedrock at 5′ depth and didn’t pick up any decent fractures by 90′ depth. A dry hole on any rig in any country is a big disappointment. We had to return to the U.S. before the second borehole was completed, but the Nigerian drill crew reported they hit bedrock at 20′ on the second attempt and were able to construct a good well at 70′ depth. The last I heard the boys had completed two more wells since and were starting on a third. 

We’ll probably be back at it next year, lending a hand, shipping parts, laughing with our African friends, encouraging them, and trying to figure out how to avoid those darn dry holes. There’s something about seeing the smile on the face of an African mother who won’t have to walk 3 kilometers one way to scoop dirty water from a seep hole; or knowing the children from a village won’t get sick this year and some die from dirty water; or maybe it’s watching the African sunset while listening to the noise of a hand pump squeaking in the distance; we’ll probably be back to help, just one more time. 

To learn more about this project or to contribute visit



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