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Pipeline Engineer Spotlight

Pipeline Engineers ensure oil and gas flows through the maze of underground pipes that form the key transportation network of the oil and gas industry. They’re responsible for designing these systems, ensuring pipeline integrity and working with other experts to make sure projects are completed.

What a typical day looks like:

From an office, Pipeline Engineers use their knowledge of physics and geography to draw up a pipeline route, including locations of well pads and facilities. They may also need to personally scout the area if unexpected features haven’t been included in the available maps. This work is so important, it can begin before a well is even drilled – companies need to consider whether a well can be reached by a viable pipeline.

Then, while other experts conduct activities like surveys, archeology and soil studies, Pipeline Engineers do further technical work like creating process and instrumentation diagrams. Once all the data is collected, a Pipeline Engineer assembles it into an application to industry regulators.

Following approval, they take the necessary information and send out a bid package to the construction companies that will bring the project to life. But a Pipeline Engineer’s job doesn’t end after the pipeline has been constructed: they’ll still need to test it for leaks and strength before the pipeline can get the final regulatory nod. And, in addition to their office and field work, Pipeline Engineers may also provide support at consultation meetings or hearings.

The kinds of problems Pipeline Engineers solve at work:

Sometimes the challenges are technical, such as running a pipeline under a river. Other times, Pipeline Engineers need to coordinate with specialty engineers and surface land team members or consult with Indigenous Peoples and landowners.

Other challenges are logistical or interpersonal. Pipeline Engineers may have to manage late changes made by the development team. For example, relocating a well pad means having to resurvey, redo drawings and reapply with industry regulators, all on a short time frame.

Skills used most on the job:

Pipeline Engineers embrace challenges and problem-solving. They apply their knowledge of math and physics to the drawings and design of pipeline systems, inspection and protection programs, and ongoing data collection on performance. And when it comes to the many kinds of collaboration required for their work, they need strong organization and communication skills

When oil or gas is safely flowing through a pipeline to its destination, you can thank a Pipeline Engineer.

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