Not anyone can be a pipeline welder. It takes time, training and a lot of practice to master the perfect weld, one that positions you at the high-end of your trades and meets the demands of an industry focused on safety.
Welding is one of the most crucial operations in pipeline construction. If you don’t get it right, then it’s the very integrity of your pipeline that is at risk. No one takes this risk more seriously than TransCanada. Safety is at the core of everything our company does. This is not just talk. We know the wellbeing of whole communities can be at stake and our reputation as a provider of safe and reliable energy infrastructure services is on the line.
The Right Welders for a Complex Job
This is why TransCanada is proud to help the United Association (UA) train a new generation of highly-skilled welders by donating large sections of large-diameter pipe, on which journeymen and apprentices can hone their welding skills as if they were on a pipeline construction site.
“We are working on large and complex infrastructure projects where safety and quality of execution are foremost,” says Bob Eadie, Energy East Pipeline Project Director at TransCanada. “We need to make sure pipeline welders are properly trained to the newest technologies that we use and that the work they will deliver once in the field is above and beyond industry standards.”
Practice until you can’t get it wrong could be Vince Kacaba’s motto. Vince is director of training at UA Local 46 in Toronto and knows about the critical importance of perfect welds.
“Pipelines are the safest way of transporting oil. That’s a reality, but it all hinges on doing the job right,” he says. “Some people seem to think we just toss the stuff into the ground and hope for the best. Nothing could be further from the truth. You need top-quality welds. That’s what we do at the UA training facilities. We bring in qualified welders within our organization and bring them up to the next level, so we turn them into the cream of the crop in their trades.”
There will be thousands of tie-in welds on Energy East – a pipeline that will bring Western oil resources to Eastern Canadian refineries that currently rely on imports. Energy East involves converting 3,000 kilometres of existing natural gas pipe and building 1,600 kilometres of new pipeline across six provinces. It will be built using the latest technology and most current techniques to ensure the safe and reliable delivery of oil. This attention to details starts with welding quality and the high standards of execution we expect from the hundreds of experienced tradesmen and women TransCanada will hire to do the job along the pipeline route.
High Pipeline Welding Standards
Several codes govern the construction of pipelines carrying oil and gas across North America, including codes from the Canadian Standards Association and the American Society for Mechanical Engineering. TransCanada ensures that on every section of pipe it builds, our visual, ultrasonic and radiographic inspections show that every weld more than meets these code requirements.
“Before the pipe goes into the ground, every weld is x-rayed to make sure it is 100-percent complete; that there are no flaws in it. We can’t afford to make mistakes,” says Vince, whose organization helps provide accredited welders to the pipeline industry across Canada and the United States. “The UA makes sure that every man and woman they send on the field are the best welders that can be and that they exceed the needs of the industry.”
Tradesmen and women hired on pipeline construction projects are not your average welder. They usually come from an industrial or construction background and choose to go back to school to enhance their skills so these can meet the advanced requirements of the pipeline industry. Journeymen and apprentices are tested to be admitted into the UA training programs, and they will be tested again at the end of their course to obtain their accreditation to work for the pipeline industry.
“The reason why we test them again at the end of the course is to ensure they can put a quality weld into the ground,” Vince says. “You are looking at being able to join two pieces of steel pipe that are probably half an inch thick, and make absolutely sure they can stand the test of time for the next 40, 50 or 60 years.”