Global Pipeline Association Celebrates Milestone
The international oil and gas pipelining community is celebrating 50 years. It was June 20-21, 1966, when 26 representatives of more than a dozen contracting firms from France, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, United States and West Germany got together in Paris to form what would become the International Pipe Line and Offshore Contractors Association (IPLOCA). The association will return to Paris to mark the occasion at the IPLOCA Annual Convention in September.
A half century ago, the leaders of the international pipeline construction industry recognized that they had many common interests and problems. During that fateful meeting in Paris, they established the International Pipe Line Contractors Association (IPLCA), as the international division of the Pipe Line Contractors Association (PLCA) of the United States. This formative group became fully independent in 1976 after a significant growth in membership. The association began including offshore oil and gas contractors in 1988 and officially added the “O” in IPLOCA on May 5, 1989.
Today the not-for-profit organization boasts close to 240 member companies, representing more than 40 countries. Through its annual convention (Sept. 12-16, 2016), workshops, regional meetings and other educational sessions, IPLOCA serves as a forum for sharing ideas, engaging the industry and its stakeholders, facilitating business opportunities and promoting the highest standards in the pipeline industry.
These workshops and technical meetings are new initiatives that IPLOCA has developed during the last 10 years, according to executive secretary Juan Arzuaga, a 34-year veteran of the industry. These events help broaden the association’s commitment to fostering cooperation and respect in the industry. It is through these initiatives that
IPLOCA seeks to guarantee the equitable sharing of risks and rewards among members, while maintaining high standards for health, safety, quality and care for the environment and the people impacted by pipeline projects.
While IPLOCA does not represent its members in front of pipeline owners and operators, Arzuaga says one of the primary benefits of belonging to the association is the access it provides companies to “meet in a neutral environment to address and discuss subjects or challenges of common interest.”
The crown jewel of these forums is the annual IPLOCA Convention. Organizing the convention has become a major focus for the association, which Arzuaga says has become “a distinctive event of IPLOCA, offering a one-week business and social program to all delegates and their spouses.”
Going back to Paris in 1966, the association’s first elected board of directors included president Jean Guyot, president of Société Entrepose, Paris, France; first vice president Alfredo Manfredini, president of Techint, Milan, Italy; second vice president Stanley A. Wright, Constructors John Brown, London, U.K.; treasurer Rolf Koehler, Preussag, Hannover, Germany; and directors Jacques Lesage, SOCEA, Paris, France; R. Mirone, MONTUBI, Milan, Italy; R.E. Todd, M.K. River Constructie Maatschappij, The Hague, Netherlands; and P.D. Campbell, Willbros (Overseas) Ltd., London, U.K.
Since the original association served as the international division of the PLCA, the group’s founding leaders had some assistance from its U.S. counterparts, including Arthur E. Poole, president of PLCA; Richard D. Cagney, director of PLCA; and Richard A. Gump, managing director of PLCA.
The group adopted bylaws that made membership in the international division the same as for those in the PLCA, with the additional requirement that its members must have headquarters outside the United States (since changed). Members needed to have been engaged in mainline cross-country pipeline construction for at least two years (now three years) and to have attained a reputation for skill, integrity and responsibility.
A provision was also made for Associate Members to consist of manufacturers and distributors of equipment and services.
Headquarters for the international division were first established in Paris, but later moved to Brussels after IPLOCA became an independent association. The head office then moved to Ghent, Belgium, in 1992 until 2005. IPLOCA headquarters were re-established in Geneva, Switzerland, where it remains today.
The goals of the association have not changed much since they were first established in 1966:
• To make membership of the association a reasonable assurance to the public of the skill, integrity and responsibility of its members.
• To maintain the standards of the pipeline and offshore contracting business at the level necessitated by its professional character and to establish members of the association in the public mind as contractors who fulfill their obligations in all good faith.
• To promote more cordial and cooperative relations among pipeline and offshore contractors and between contractors and those with whom they have to deal or with whom they have contact.
• To encourage efficiency among contractors and their employees.
• To seek correction of injurious, discriminatory or unfair business practice by or against pipeline and offshore contractors.
• To eliminate as far as is humanly possible the occurrence of injury and death to contractor’s employees and others by following sound safety practices and by promoting the continued research and development into new, better and safer construction techniques.
• To follow the established codes of conduct set out by the industry and others with respect to working within a free and competitive market.
As part of its international reach, IPLOCA maintains a close relationship with its sister associations, the PLCA, Pipe Line Contractors Association of Canada (PLCAC), Distribution Contractors Association (DCA), Australian Pipelines and Gas Association (APGA), DCA-Europe, Pipeline Industries Guild (PIG), Russian Oil & Gas Contractors Union (ROGCU) and various other allied associations. IPLOCA is also a member
of the World Federation of Pipe Line Industry Associations.
Serving its Members
IPLOCA members are broken down into five categories: Regular Members, Associate Members, Academic Members, Honorary Members and Corresponding Members. The association strives to work collaboratively and promote cooperative relationships among its various members, as well as with other contractors, owners and operators.
Regular Members are characterized as experienced companies directly involved in the execution and/or rehabilitation of pipelines for the transportation of fluids, gases or solids, including submarine pipelines or offshore structures and associated facilities.
Associate Members are manufacturers and equipment distributors that provide vital services, equipment, materials, tools or supplies for the construction, rehabilitation and/or maintenance of pipelines and their associated facilities, onshore and offshore.
Academic Members include universities and research institutions whose activities encompass the study of pipes, materials, tools, supplies, welding, coating, testing and processes associated with onshore and offshore pipelines and associated facilities.
Honorary Members are individuals who have performed distinguished services to the onshore and offshore pipeline industry or to the association.
Corresponding Members are a new category that was established at last year’s convention in Singapore. Effective Jan. 1, 2016, this category allows oil and gas onshore and offshore owners and operators to take part in the association.
The tradition of the annual convention was established during the first IPLOCA board of directors meeting in Paris in September 1966. The association’s first convention was held in Naples, Italy, in October 1967. This annual event was then held in different European destinations up until 1975, when the convention ventured to Mexico. It then returned to Europe for another 11 years before being held in Boston in 1987.
The annual IPLOCA Convention now follows a rotation so that it is regularly held in different regions of the world. The convention has been held in North America, Central/South America, Europe, Middle East and Asia Pacific.
To further engage its members around the world, in 2007, the board of directors decided to hold regional meetings, organized by each regional director with presentations from IPLOCA and the clients deemed most important in the region as invited guest speakers. These meetings foster discussions on common issues and challenges and provide IPLOCA the opportunity to update members on association objectives, review new technologies and learn more about members’ needs at a local level.
Since 2001, IPLOCA has instituted several awards to honor members in such categories as safety, environmental responsibility, innovations and more. The association publishes all of the award applications it receives for these awards on its website to provide new ideas to its members and to give information about the latest developments of the industry at large.
The association compiles and publishes health, safety and environmental data about its members every year, and introduced its annual safety award in 2001. The award was renamed the IPLOCA Health and Safety Award in 2007 and is sponsored by Chevron.
Also introduced in 2001 was the biennial IPLOCA New Technologies Award, sponsored by BP, to recognize significant achievement in the development of new pipeline technologies.
The association launched the biennial Environmental Award in 2004 and Corporate Social Responsibility Award in 2011, which are sponsored by Shell and Total, respectively.
A new biennial award for Excellence in Project Execution will be presented for the first time at IPLOCA’s 50th anniversary convention in Paris. The award will be given for outstanding project execution related to onshore and offshore pipelines and facilities construction.
In addition, IPLOCA has also launched a scholarship program this year, while celebrating its 50th anniversary, and the association has recently awarded 20 scholarships to students belonging to the families of member company employees from all of IPLOCA’s geographic regions.
Providing educational resources is also a major component of how IPLOCA serves its members. In addition to publishing the annual safety statistics of its members, the association has produced the “Safety and Environmental Guidelines” and collaborated with the Canadian Construction Sector Council and PLCAC on a DVD titled “Safety Training Instructors Tool.”
In 2009, through its Novel Construction groups, the association published the first edition of “Onshore Pipelines: The Road to Success,” a reference tool that covers a pipeline project from development to commissioning. The publication is available online at iploca.com and may be used as a teaching tool for the pipeline industry. Subsequent editions were published in 2010 and 2013. A completely revised and expanded fourth edition will be issued as an app in September.
With low oil prices rocking the global oil and gas pipeline industry over the past two years, IPLOCA members are feeling the pressure of tighter project scheduling and increased scrutiny related to safety and quality control.
“There is a big focus on low prices for fast track construction services with very high expectations in safety performance, environmental protection together with the highest standards of quality in very remote and challenging geographical and maritime areas,” Arzuaga says.
The biggest challenges for the global industry include meeting proper environmental requirements, the use of local labor and the need for adequate training, the high demand of well-trained specialists with limited turn-over, an aging workforce, security issues in many countries, time constraints related to higher productivity, working in remote areas with limited or almost zero infrastructure and technical limitations of deep-water basins for the offshore industry.
Although the highest concentration of activity in the global pipeline market today is in the United States with the record increase in production over the past decade, Arzuaga says IPLOCA member companies must go where the work is.
“North American and Russian companies are very busy in their own countries,” he says, “while companies in the rest of the world need to find activities overseas. You can see Chinese companies working more and more abroad. The same thing is happening with European companies moving to Latin America, Australia, Canada, Africa and Asia.”
Although different global regions each have different challenges, Arzuaga says one common bond among them all is the focus on safety.
The first board of directors of what would later become IPLOCA held their first meeting in September 1966, in Paris.[/caption]
“All our members want to see every individual return home safely after finishing a job,” he adds.
While oil prices have led to a slowdown in the market, Arzuaga has a positive outlook on what is to come.
“We are people of the construction industry, and in order to build things you need to always keep an optimist view of the future,” he says. “There are a lot of existing pipelines that need to be upgraded and many that are still to be built. The oil and gas industry is suffering at the present time, not because of the actual need to build infrastructure, but more because of political decisions influencing prices that are then postponing a lot of projects that still need to be built. There is still oil and gas in great volumes worldwide and the demand inevitably continues to grow.”
Bradley Kramer is managing editor of North American Oil & Gas Pipelines. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.