Some kids dream of being astronauts.
Some kids dream of playing baseball.
Some kids dream of becoming rockstar.
When I was a kid, I had only one dream
To create something useful to people & society..
And eventually, I became an engineer..
(~Ted – HIMYM)
Well, there are a lot of responses on my blog and my e-mails that asking about pipeline. The thing is, It’s not like I’m more expert than you, because honestly, I’m also same like you that still required to learn more. So, I hope, this post is useful to give a basic understanding for you, who also want to pursue the career on pipeline’s world.
What is ‘Engineering’?
There is little point in talking about pipeline engineering without first understanding what ‘engineering’ is, isn’t it?
Engineering basicaly means an application of science to create something through practical of technical knowledge on design, or implement, or problems solving, or improvements for materials, structures, machines, devices, systems, and processes that safely meet its intended function, efficiently & economically.
In a big / establish country, Engineering is a high demand and prestigious profession, because Engineers can make a big ‘difference’ in the world by clever designs on energy worlds, or on infrastructure projects such as building, bridge, or water treatment to give people clean water to drink.
What is ‘Pipeline’?
The term pipeline refers to a long line of connected segments of pipe, with pumps, valves, control devices, gas compressor stations, and other equipment/facilities needed for operating the system. It is intended for transporting a fluid (liquid, gas, mixture of fluids, etc.), of under or above the ground or sea.
In a “rich oil” country, pipeline systems are always in high demand. As transportation by pipelines reduces traffic on highways and streets, reduces noise, air pollution, and damage to highways & streets caused by trucks and other vehicles.
Define “Pipeline Engineering”
What is the first thing you think of when I say “pipeline engineering”? “I don’t know” or “that’s a good question” was a common first response to me. Although many specifically said “mechanical engineering”, some identified “civil engineering”, but there seemed to be a bit of “process engineers”.
“Pipeline engineering” is not currently a recognised engineering discipline, like civil or mechanical, because pipeline engineering ultimately has to be multi-disciplined. As Pipeline Institute said, a pipeline engineer needs to be a “good at everything, and a master of some things”. Besides that, they also should be able to see the whole picture of the project from the view of business objectives, environment, society issue, design, manufacturing, fabrication, construction / installation, and operation.
So, pipeline engineering is indeed a multi-faceted, complex and challenging occupation where you can apply your broad engineering skills to “real time” operations of the oil and gas industry.
What’s the difference of Piping & Pipeline?
Piping systems deals with small sized pipes to transport fluids in one area (e.g in refinery plant, chemical plant, etc.) with less transportation capacity in On-Shore or Off-shore area.
Pipeline systems deals with transports of fluids with big size of pipes and huge capacity through long distances (e.g from one plant to another plant) that along the way will be crossing road, highway, rivers, or laying on the seabed, etc, in On-Shore or Off-shore area.
What Pipeline Engineer Do?
The first question is, do you want pipeline engineer to design, construct or operate the pipeline? Or, all of the above? Design requires attention to detail and technically sound knowledge. Construction requires personal mobility and the ability to gain the respect of a construction crew. And operations require getting your hands “dirty” and good commitment to the asset.
Especially for pipeline engineering, it’s normally on office working-based. That obviously, it’s pipeline engineer’s responsibility to ensure that design or integrity assessment is correct, that use the best possible code practices available, calculations, inputs & assumptions, and all available data. These data will include historical, current and circumstantial data, inspection data, maps, etc.
Generally, the work-flow of pipeline engineering would be :
Pipeline Engineering & Pipeline Project
Every large pipeline project has its own unique design elements and surprises. Anticipating and knowing how to prepare for potential issues is critical. Design of pipelines is usually carried out in three stages : Conceptual Engineering, Preliminary Engineering, and Detail Engineering.
During Conceptual Engineering, issues of technical feasibility and constraints on the system are addressed. Required information for the forthcoming design and construction are identified. The outcome allows for scheduling of development and rough estimate of associated cost.
During Preliminary Engineering, right evaluation is fundamental for a pipeline project’s success. It defines system concept (pipeline size, material grade, hydraulic performance, etc.), authority applications, and sufficient design output to order materials.
In Detailed Engineering phase, the design is completed in sufficient detail to technical input for all procurement and construction work.
Once design is finalized, pipeline is ordered for fabrications & constructions/installations work. The choice of which methods to use depends upon system characteristics, technology availability, cost considerations, and several concerns that require attention during pipeline construction / installation.
Pipeline operation starts with pipeline testing and commissioning. Operations to be carried out after flooding, cleaning, gauging, hydrostatic pressure testing, leak testing, and commissioning. Daily operations include flow assurance and pigging operations to maintain the pipeline under good conditions.
How to become a Pipeline Engineer?
The journey toward a pipeline engineer requires patience and desire for comprehensive knowledge. To show how wide a pipeline engineer’s knowledge needs to be, normally it requires the basic understanding about:
- Fundamentals of Pipeline Engineering;
- Pipeline Design and Construction;
- Pipeline Structural Integrity;
- Economics for Pipeline Engineers;
- Mechanical of Fluids, Processing and Production;
- Corrosion and Cathodic Protection;
- Instrumentation of Control Systems;
- Materials and Fabrication;
- Pipeline Constructions Method & Technology;
- Dynamics of Offshore Installations;
- Civil and Geo-technical Engineering;
- Safety and Environmental Engineering.
So, generally, here is my tips based on my own life experienced :
- Pipeline engineers usually possess bachelor’s degree, majoring in mechanical, or civil, or metallurgical / material. It will help to become proficient in the design, budgeting and implementation of pipeline projects.
- Gain familiarity with the predominant design software used by engineering firms for pipeline design.
- Open yourself up to new opportunities by staying flexible about work-related travel, whether head-out to job sites or light travel on site visis basis.
- Obtain employment with a construction company to enhance knowledge. Several months of work on a construction site will show the hard work and diligence of pipeline project.
- Start a habit of meeting with laborers and foremen on pipeline projects. It allow to gauge construction issues with a pipeline and evaluate the construction site in person.
- Compile a list of contractors and regional companies as you become a pipeline engineer. The networks you establish early in your career can be utilized for future employers.