Jean-François is an electrical engineering student at the l’École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) in Montréal . At just 24, he already knows exactly what he wants to do in life.
“There is a serious discussion that needs to happen in our society on energy issues, on how we can ensure we safely develop the resources we have in our country, and I want to take an active role in that debate,” says the engaged student who recently founded “Club Énergie-ÉTS”, a grouping of engineering students seeking to work hand in hand with the industry to find solutions to energy challenges.
Jean-François and five other students from Club Énergie recently went to Alberta to meet with a number of energy players, including TransCanada, to discuss the key projects that will allow Canadians to continue to receive the oil and gas they need each day. They also wanted to find out more on best practices and technology innovations in an industry focused on delivering energy safely.
“We have these huge reserves in Western Canada that will benefit the whole country, not just Alberta. It will create jobs everywhere, including in Quebec in environmental services, specialized engineering and many other sectors,” Jean-François says. “Now, we need to ensure these reserves are developed soundly.”
“What our week-long mission in Alberta has shown us is that a lot of energy companies are not only aware of these environmental aspects but that they are also actively investing in solutions to reduce their use of energy and resources – notably water – and ensure oil resources are delivered safely,” he added.
During their visit at TransCanada, Jean-François and his fellow club members met with various in-house experts to discuss pipeline safety, environmental strategy and emergency response plans. They also visited our high-tech Oil Control Centre that monitors our entire oil and gas pipeline systems 24/7 and where our highly-trained safety specialists can shut down a section of pipeline within minutes if they notice anything abnormal happening.
“There are a lot of things involved in pipeline integrity, a lot of efforts made on prevention,” says Jean-François, citing some of the advanced tools TransCanada uses to ensure its pipelines work as they should. “Smart PIGs” are one of them. They are regularly deployed inside pipelines and their electronic sensors check the pipe walls for even the tiniest crack, flaw or sign of corrosion.
Jean-François is particularly interested in pipelines and the discussions around the construction of new projects such as Energy East. “We need pipelines just like we need other utility lines. A tremendous debate about them has just started in our country and there is a big pedagogical effort that needs to be done to inform people on what pipelines are and how they are built.”
The effort to inform people is underway. The Energy East team has held over 116 open houses across six provinces in the past two years to inform thousands of local residents, First Nations communities, land owners, emergency responders and elected officials about our project and to get their invaluable feedback.
“This is the way to go in order to have a debate based on facts rather than emotions,” Jean-François said.