Many years ago, when I had been working as a pipeline engineer for about 10 years, I started asking the question of people around me, “just what is a pipeline engineer?”.
In asking the question, I wanted to understand what was meant when they asked for a pipeline engineer… what were the expectations?
I wasn’t really sure if I really was one, even if my business card gave me that title.
Not because I didn’t know what I was doing, but because I was doing so many different tasks and roles on so many (pipeline) projects.
Pipeline engineering isn’t an established engineering discipline, not like the traditional disciplines such as civil or mechanical engineering.
Pipeline engineering is a combination of all the engineering disciplines, as well as land management, environmental studies, sociology, and economics. The most ambiguous statement you can make is, “I need a pipeline engineer for this”. You’ll need to be more specific than that.
And then there are the project engineers who are (sometimes) working on a long-distance, large-diameter pipeline project. It’s not a full time gig as a pipeline engineer, but suddenly you’re a project engineer on a pipeline project, and there’s a need to know all kinds of things about cross-country pipelines … even if your last project was a wind farm, or an offshore platform, or the process piping in a fenced-off industrial plant. Is being a project engineer on a few pipeline projects enough to make you a pipeline engineer? Do you need to “be” a pipeline engineer to work on a pipeline project? What’s the minimum a project engineer on a pipeline project needs to know?
All good questions.
So, at the moment, never mind: welcome to the pipeline engineers here, and the project engineers working on a pipeline project, and the land agents and the environmental managers, and the corrosion specialists and the designers and the operators and cost estimators and the construction engineers. Maybe we’re all just pipeliners in the end.
This blog, and the associated wiki (AS2885.info) are here to make the journey a little easier, especially when it comes to using and interpreting the masterpiece that is AS2885 (laying it on a little thick maybe).
By the way, you might be a pipeliner if you:
- – know the difference between piping and a pipeline
- – have a sticker that announces “I heart pipelines”
- – have stood in a paddock looking around and towards the horizon
- – know what the dope gang, pig launcher/receiver, scraper station, and joints are
- – have a picture on your phone of a really steep slope. Bonus points if there’s a sideboom in the photo too
- – miss the heady days of the expansion of 2010-2015 (that one’s Australia-specific)
- – can’t help but notice the “Danger- Pipeline” signs when you’re out driving
- – know there’s more to pipelines than you’ll ever know
Working with pipelines
Those of us who work with pipelines, pipeline engineer or not, understand that those pipelines go through other people’s backyards, public places, and where most of the population doesn’t know they are there.
The ‘people’ working with pipelines could be engineers, technicians, lawyers, construction workers, administrative staff, and so on. We, the pipeline people, have responsibilities to the public.
Other people’s backyard: that means the public. The ‘innocent bystander’.
They don’t do a hazard analysis or risk assessment before stepping out their front door to walk the dog.
We have a deep ethical requirement to consider public safety in our work. The goal every day is that ‘nothing happens’.
Our pipelines are safe and are basically invisible to the public. And they should stay that way.