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Pipeline construction is a project-based business and demand for skilled personnel varies based on the economy, energy sector development, regulatory approvals and anticipated demand for getting energy resources to markets.

Industry Overview

Demand for a secure energy supply means Canada is a critical global energy source. Getting Canadian energy to markets requires great innovation, ingenuity and teamwork. A critical link in this process is large-diameter pipelines, also known as mainline pipelines. These mainline pipelines as well as smaller distribution system pipelines are the two major areas of pipeline construction, operations and maintenance in Canada. Building and maintaining all pipelines requires specialized construction processes.

Focus on Mainline Pipelines

Expansive geography and diverse seasonal weather conditions has driven Canadians to be world leaders in designing, constructing and maintaining pipelines. Mainline pipelines range from 24 to 48 inches in diameter and span hundreds or thousands of kilometres. Building a mainline pipeline is broken down into smaller projects called pipeline spreads. Pipeline spreads are designed, engineered, prepared and financed by large pipeline transportation companies. They are built by project-based contractor firms usually in two focused seasons of work, each spanning from many weeks to several months. Mainline pipeline construction work varies based on the economy, energy sector development, regulatory approvals and anticipated demand for getting energy resources to markets.

Welding and Pipelaying

Welding and pipelaying sets the pace for the entire pipeline construction process. Many welders are used in a highly-coordinated, focused assembly line process. Welders and journeyperson pipelayers and their helpers: collaborate with labourers in bending pipes to align with the contour of the land, pre-heat pipe to specified temperatures to prepare pipe sections for welding, coordinate the final set-up and clamping of pipe sections prior to welding, complete several weld passes using either traditional hand arc or automatic welding, and complete tie ins used to connect finished sections of pipe with other pipelines.