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Occupational Profile

Oil Pipeline Operators and Maintenance Workers

Oil pipeline operators and maintenance workers monitor and conduct the day to day operations of oil pipelines and associated facilities.

  • Avg. Salary $93,360.00
  • Avg. Wage $44.65
  • Minimum Education High school diploma
  • Outlook Down
  • Employed 6,000
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Control Centre Operator, Equipment Operator, Gauger, Tank Farm Operator

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

90%
90%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Oil Pipeline Operators and Maintenance Workers is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Petroleum, Gas and Chemical Process Operators
NOC code: 9232
OBJECTIVE

Interest in controlling process start-up, shut-down and troubleshooting; and in operating electronic or computerized control panels from a central control room; and in shutting down, isolating and preparing process units or production equipment for maintenance

INNOVATIVE

Interest in analyzing information to develop operator procedures for normal operations, start-up and shut-down of units; and in participating in safety audits and programs, and in providing emergency response when required

directive

Interest in speaking with team members and trainees to authorize or co-sign maintenance work orders; in ensuring adherence to safety and environmental regulations; may work in a team with shared supervisory responsibilities and participate in training other workers

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Oil pipeline operators and maintenance workers ensure that pipeline systems operate safely, efficiently and reliably. Pipeline systems transport oil and oil products via:

  • flow lines that connect oil wells to oil batteries (storage facilities)
  • pipeline gathering systems that connect production fields to main pipelines
  • main pipeline transmission lines that carry oil from major points of production to refineries or to other markets.

Workers' responsibilities vary from one company to another. In general, however, oil pipeline maintenance workers:

  • check the equipment (pumps, motors, valves, traps) at pumping stations and related sites
  • co-ordinate operations with control centre operators
  • monitor the quality of the products shipped
  • make adjustments to the equipment
  • respond to problems when they occur along the pipeline system.

Although their overall duties are similar, different types of oil pipeline maintenance workers have different levels of responsibility.

In some companies, tank farm operators are employed at pumping stations, usually located near tank farms (large storage facilities for oil and oil products). From control rooms, they:

  • monitor instruments that provide information about product levels in storage tanks and the flow rates, pressures, volumes, densities and temperatures of products being shipped
  • operate computers that remotely control valves, product separation and pumps
  • direct the work of gaugers and utility workers (described below)
  • monitor the work of contract personnel while at the tank farm and pumping station
  • check various areas of the pumping station to ensure proper and safe operation
  • may check remote pumping stations.

Tank farm operators report directly to station supervisors and are expected to assume supervisory responsibilities when station supervisors are absent.

In other companies, control centre operators monitor and control pipeline activities for large regions (for example, all of Alberta and British Columbia) from one centralized control centre. From control rooms, they:

  • monitor operations including flow and product quality measures, storage levels, line balance and leak detection
  • operate control valves, block valves, product separation and pumps
  • provide information to gaugers, maintenance and other personnel.

Other pipeline workers, often called gaugers and utility workers, may work at pumping stations. In general, gaugers:

  • make routine checks of the pumping station or remote stations
  • take readings and make necessary adjustments
  • keep detailed records of oil flow, temperature, density and pressure in the pipeline
  • take samples of crude to evaluate quality
  • take precise readings from meters
  • send and receive pipeline scrapers
  • maintain equipment
  • determine month end tank inventories
  • may prepare calculations for receipts and deliveries of oil and oil products.

Under direct supervision, gaugers also may:

  • route the correct product to the pumps from the tanks
  • check to see that incoming and outgoing products are moving through the correct meters and that meters are working properly
  • take samples of various products
  • conduct simple laboratory tests to check product quality and grade.

Utility workers work closely with gaugers and assist them with their work. As they gain experience, utility workers usually are given more responsibility and, after two or three years, may advance to gauger positions. In addition to their work with gaugers, utility workers are responsible for general maintenance, housekeeping in the pumping station (washing walls, cleaning floors) and general site safety.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Pipeline systems operate 24 hours a day, year round, so control centre operators may work 8 or 12 hour shifts. They usually work in an office. Other workers may work 8 hour day shifts.

Utility workers and gaugers work both indoors and outdoors in all types of weather conditions. They are required to lift items weighing up to 20 kilograms.

All pumping station personnel must be acquainted with safety procedures associated with handling oil and oil products.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Oil pipeline operators and maintenance workers need the following characteristics:

  • precise
  • flexible
  • good communication skills
  • the stamina and endurance required to perform repetitive tasks
  • able to work effectively as a member of a team.

They should enjoy taking responsibility, adhering to prescribed work procedures and doing physically active work.

In an emergency, oil pipeline operators must be able to evaluate the situation and respond to it quickly and correctly. The safety of a number of people and the efficient operation of the oil pipeline system often depend on their good judgement. Control centre operators also need good colour vision to interpret colour computer graphics.

Oil pipeline operators and maintenance workers should enjoy controlling equipment, instruments and machinery, analyzing information to solve problems, and working with others.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Oil pipeline operators and maintenance workers usually require at least a high school education and a valid driver's license. Employers prefer to hire applicants who have related post-secondary education and training or experience in:

  • safety procedures, first aid and CPR
  • WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System)
  • mechanics
  • electrical work
  • basic electronics or instrumentation
  • power engineering
  • chemical engineering technology
  • petroleum engineering technology
  • mechanical engineering technology.

Larger employers generally provide in-house training programs for new employees and ongoing courses for experienced employees. Smaller companies may send employees to training providers for technical courses.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Below-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Specialized oil pipeline companies and some integrated oil and gas companies operate pipelines. Job applicants usually approach these companies directly for information about employment opportunities in pumping station operations.

Inexperienced individuals often start as summer help or utility workers and, with experience, advance to gauger positions. Gaugers may become tank farm operators and station supervisors. Additional courses and technical school programs often are required to move into electronics, control centre operations or mechanical maintenance positions.

Oil pipeline operators and maintenance workers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 9232: Petroleum, gas and chemical process operators. In Alberta, 84% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth(work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 6,000 Albertans are employed in the Petroleum, gas and chemical process operators occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.0% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 60 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As oil pipeline operators and maintenance workers form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for oil pipeline operators and maintenance workers.

In 2014, the Petroleum Labour Market Information (PetroLMI) Division of Enform (formerly the Petroleum Human Resources Council) indicated more than 20% of the workforce in the oil and gas industry is eligible for retirement, contributing to the labour demand required to support the industry.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 16, 2016
Petroleum, gas and chemical process operators
NOC code: 9232

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $32.00 $45.00 $38.23 $39.00
Overall $42.00 $59.78 $44.65 $42.00
Top $46.00 $69.15 $51.03 $46.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
ALBERTA, ALL INDUSTRIES
Oil & Gas Extraction

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

90%
90%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

6%
6%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

4%
4%

2015 Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related High School Subjects
  • Science
  • Trades, Manufacturing and Transportation
    • Electro-Technologies
    • Fabrication
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Engineering and Science Technologies
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Enform website: www.enform.ca

Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada website: www.petrohrsc.ca

Petroleum Human Resources Council Careers in Oil and Gas (COG) website: www.careersinoilandgas.com

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Aug 01, 2011. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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