Happy New Year, readers, and welcome to 2017. It’s nice to turn the page on 2016, a year that saw continued uncertainty in the oil and gas pipeline market. After a year of stagnant oil prices, project delays, increased merger activity and well-publicized pipeline protests, the industry can wipe the slate clean and start anew.
This is a time when many people make resolutions to better themselves in the coming months. Many of you may have weight-loss goals or plans to get fit. Or maybe you will further your education or advance your career. Whatever the initiative may be, this is a time of hope.
It should also be a time of hope for the pipeline industry. OPEC finally agreed to reduce production, which should lead to higher commodity prices. This month, a new U.S. president will be sworn in, and the industry will likely see an easing of governmental scrutiny for major projects. We know that the Northeast needs added infrastructure to get Marcellus and Utica shale energy resources to market. Perhaps we’ll see the return of the Keystone XL pipeline. And of course, the Dakota Access Pipeline project remains on the backburner after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it would not grant the project a so-called “easement.”
In Canada, it appears TransCanada is progressing with its Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project. The company announced Nov. 29 an agreement with the Gitxsan Nation to allow the pipeline to be built along the tribe’s territory. TransCanada says it has made 13 such agreements with First Nation groups in British Columbia.
This strategy seems like it could be a good model for similar projects in the United States. As part of the industry’s ongoing efforts to engage stakeholders, establishing better partnerships with tribal groups to build pipelines should be a resolution for pipeliners.
Another resolution for the industry must be to address the looming age gap among the workforce, which is leading to talent shortages across all areas, from the jobsite to the home office.
Company’s like our cover story subject Henkels & McCoy and others have developed dedicated training centers to boost skills and retain industry knowledge.
Organizations like the Underground Construction Workforce Alliance (UCWA) and the Young Pipeline Professionals (YPP) are also seeking measures to bring in the next generation of pipeliners.
Achieving these two goals — 1.) partnering with tribal groups as part stakeholder engagement efforts and 2.) recruiting new talent to replace retiring pipeline veterans — will lead to a much stronger industry in 2017 and beyond. We all know energy demand will continue to rise and that North America is rich with oil and gas resources. Join me and renew your hope for a strong industry in this new year.