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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 $80,155.00
  • Avg. Wage $38.03
  • Minimum Education High school diploma
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 6,400
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Control Centre Operator, Equipment Operator, Gauger, Pipeline Operator, Pipeline Technician, Roustabout, Tank Farm Operator

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Petroleum, Gas and Chemical Process Operators (9232) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Petroleum, Gas and Chemical Process Operators (J112) 
  • 2011 NOC: Petroleum, gas and chemical process operators (9232) 
  • 2016 NOC: Central control and process operators, petroleum, gas and chemical processing (9232) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

33%
33%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
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
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 Mar 31, 2019

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

Workers’ responsibilities vary from one company to another. In general, 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 equipment
  • Respond to problems that occur along the pipeline

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

In some companies, tank farm operators work at pumping stations. These are most often 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, including the flow rates, pressures, volumes, densities, and temperatures of products being shipped
  • Operate computers that remotely control valves, product separation mechanisms, 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 safe and proper operation
  • Check remote pumping stations
  • Check specialty chemical rates and inventories
  • Supervise bulk tanker truck unloading and loading

Tank farm operators report directly to station supervisors. They assume supervisory duties when station supervisors are absent.

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

  • Monitor operations, including measures of flow and product quality, storage levels, line balance, and leak detection
  • Operate control valves, block valves, product separation mechanisms, and pumps
  • Provide information to gaugers, maintenance workers, and other personnel

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

  • Do routine checks of the pumping station or remote stations
  • Take readings and make necessary adjustments
  • Keep detailed records of oil flow, temperature, density, and pipeline pressure
  • Take samples of crude to assess quality
  • Take precise readings from meters
  • Maintain equipment
  • Determine month-end tank inventories
  • Prepare calculations for receipts and deliveries of oil and oil products
  • Send pipeline pigs to clear blockages in lines
  • Send batch corrosion inhibitor into pipeline, and then send filter pig to prevent corrosion
  • Send batch solvent into pipelines obstructed with paraffin wax
  • Change and grease pipeline valves
  • Monitor corrosion with coupons (bits of metal that show corrosion rates)
  • Inspect for pipeline leaks
  • Suspend unused lines or abandon old lines in older fields
  • Assist with Smart Tool runs
  • Complete provincial One Call requests
  • Complete aerial patrol sightings if required

Under direct supervision, gaugers also may route the correct product to the pumps from the tanks. They may:

  • Check to see that incoming and outgoing products are moving through the correct meters
  • Ensure meters are working properly
  • Take samples of various products
  • Conduct simple laboratory tests to check product quality and grade

Utility workers or roustabouts work closely with and help gaugers. As they gain experience, utility workers often receive more responsibility. After two or three years, they may advance to gauger positions. Further to their work with gaugers, utility workers take charge of general maintenance and safety. They also perform housekeeping in the pumping station, such as cleaning walls and floors.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Pipeline systems operate 24 hours a day, year-round, so 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. They work in all types of weather. They need to lift heavy items.

All personnel must understand safety procedures for handling oil and oil products.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Oil pipeline operators and maintenance workers need:

  • Precision, flexibility, efficiency, and reliability
  • Stamina and endurance to perform repetitive tasks
  • A safety-conscious attitude
  • Communication skills
  • Troubleshooting skills
  • The ability to work alone and as a team
  • The ability to work under pressure
  • The ability to create and follow schedules

They should be comfortable following prescribed procedures and analyzing information to solve problems.

In an emergency, they must be able to assess 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:

  • Taking responsibility
  • Doing physically active work
  • Controlling equipment, instruments, and machinery
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Oil pipeline operators and maintenance workers most often need a high school education and a valid driver’s license. Employers prefer applicants who have related post-secondary education and training or experience in:

  • Safety procedures, first aid, and CPR
  • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)
  • Mechanics
  • Electrical work
  • Basic electronics or instrumentation
  • Power engineering
  • Chemical engineering technology
  • Petroleum engineering technology
  • Mechanical engineering technology
  • ATV safety
  • Bear awareness
  • Ground Disturbance Level II
  • Line Locator

Oil pipeline operators and maintenance workers are trained to respond to abnormal pipeline operating conditions. This includes emergencies. Most large employers provide in-house training for new employees. They also provide ongoing courses for experienced employees. Smaller companies may send employees to training providers for technical courses.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Energy Safety Canada

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Red Deer College

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

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Specialized oil pipeline companies and some integrated oil and gas companies operate pipelines. In general, applicants approach these companies directly for information about job openings in pumping station operations.

Inexperienced individuals often start as summer help or utility workers. With experience, they advance to gauger positions. Gaugers may become tank farm operators and station supervisors. Additional courses and technical school programs may be 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 [pdf] in this occupation is 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 (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the J112: Petroleum, Gas and Chemical Process Operators occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 60 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2019
Petroleum, gas and chemical process operators

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 $16.50 $53.81 $32.22 $30.00
Overall $17.00 $56.59 $38.03 $34.66
Top $17.00 $66.60 $44.27 $41.59

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
Manufacturing
ALL INDUSTRIES

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

33%
33%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

0%
0%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

0%
0%

Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Engineering and Science Technologies
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2019

PetroLMI, Career in Oil and Gas (COG) website: careersinoilandgas.com

Energy Safety Canada website: www.energysafetycanada.com

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2019. 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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