Pipeline Careers, Training Available

Solitaire laying the Polarled pipeline summer 2015


Staff Writer

WHEELING –Interstate pipelines, transmission pipelines and gathering pipelines — oh my!

Throughout the Marcellus and Utica shale region, contractors continue drilling wells, building infrastructure and installing pipelines. So far, billions of dollars have been invested in building pipelines across Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and other states to move the natural gas drawn from the shale formations beneath the surface.

The life of a pipeline worker can be challenging, as one must be willing to work in virtually any type of weather or climate, while dealing with the often mountainous Appalachian terrain. One must also be willing to travel, as most workers do not have the luxury of going to work at the same job site for more than a few months at a time.

Still, with plenty of wells already producing and many more planned, a potential investment of $83.7 billion in West Virginia petrochemical facilities by China Energy, and a possible $6 billion PTT Global Chemical ethane cracker at Dilles Bottom, the career opportunities seem destined to grow.

Recently, TransCanada Corp. placed the $1.6 billion Leach XPress pipeline into service. Officials said at peak construction, the Leach employed nearly 5,000 employees and contractors.

Along with the Leach XPress, new interstate pipelines that will move natural gas drawn from the Upper Ohio Valley include the:

∫ $5.1 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline,

∫ $3 billion Atlantic Sunrise,

∫ $2 billion Nexus Pipeline,

∫ $2 billion Mountaineer XPress,

∫ $4.3 billion Rover Pipeline, and

∫ $3.5 billion Mountain Valley Pipeline.

Largely due to the ongoing growth of the Marcellus and Utica shale industry, West Virginia Northern Community College will open a new $4.7 million Industrial Technology Center in East Wheeling for fall semester.

“We are anticipating the need for more welders in this region. This will allow us to have 20 booths for our welding program instead of just eight. Plus, they will have room to do some real-world pipe welding in this new building,” Larry Tackett, college vice president of Economic and Workforce Development, said.

However, one not necessarily needs college, according to the International Union of Operating Engineers. This organization states that its National Pipeline Training Fund provides financial support for a comprehensive pipeline training program.

According to the schedule, the closest training class to the local area will be held in New Alexandria, Pa., which is east of Pittsburgh, during the spring.

The organization’s program includes angle dozers, excavators, side-booms and a pipe bending machine, while all participants receive illustrated workbooks specific to that equipment.

The basic course includes pipeline work orientation, digging and grading procedures, hand signals, maintenance, pipeline terms, and the significance of the job steward’s duties and responsibilities. The classroom segment of the course covers a wide variety of material including general pipeline construction practices and innovations, the clearing process and restoration techniques and the history of the pipeline industry.

Full information on the program is available at www.iuoe.org/training/iuoe-pipeline-training.