Horizontal directional drilling (HDD) has become the preferred method for trenchless pipeline installations. Drilling pressures must be limited and a “no-drill zone” determined to avoid exceeding the strength of surrounding soil and rock. The currently accepted industry method of calculating hydraulic fracturing limiting pressure with application of an arbitrary safety factor contains several assumptions that are often not applicable to specific ground conditions. There is also no standard procedure for safety factor determination, resulting in detrimental impacts on drilling operations. This paper provides an analysis of the standard methods and proposes two alternative analytical models to more accurately determine the hydraulic fracture point and acceptable drilling pressure. These alternative methods provide greater understanding of the interaction between the drilling pressures and the surrounding ground strength properties. This allows for more accurate determination of horizontal directional drilling limitations. A comparison is presented to determine the differences in characteristics and assumptions for each model. The impact of specific soil properties and factors is investigated by means of a sensitivity analysis to determine the most critical soil information for each model.

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