Offshore competency standards are taking shape

A group of key participants in the offshore pipeline industry have come together to identify the competencies needed for pipeline engineering and have begun to draft them into a set of competency standards.

In 2010 APGA published its Pipeline Engineer Competency Standards, which set out the definitions of competency across the breadth of pipeline engineering roles. It identified 220 pipeline engineering competencies. However, while these standards left a place marker for offshore pipeline engineering, they were focused on onshore pipelines, reflecting the bulk of APGA’s membership. Since then, there has been increasing interest and involvement in APGA by the offshore industry, so much so that a group of key offshore participants have banded together to identify the competencies needed for offshore pipeline engineering and draftthem into a set of competency standards for offshore pipeline engineers. What is noticeable is that while in many respects the competencies required by offshore pipeline engineers parallel those for onshore, in many more respects they are different because numerous issues to be managed in the offshore setting differ greatly from those for onshore pipelines. Developing an offshore pipeline engineer training program through APGA will assist in providing the necessary tools to pipeline operators, pipeline engineering consultants and pipeline installation contractors to assess, screen and develop their engineering professionals in the broadest sense. The offshore pipeline engineer training program will serve the same objectives as those for the onshore pipeline engineers,
including:»» Accelerating the rate at which engineers develop expertise; »» Providing a clear career path for engineers; »» Providing a new emphasis on the value and importance of pipeline engineers.

Providing a vehicle to assist communication about pipeline engineering, and raise its profile; »» Helping engineers see themselves differently; i.e. recognise their importance to business and society; »» Placing engineers in a position to better manage their professional liabilities through high standards of competence and expertise; and, »» Increasing the recognition by society that pipelines are safe and reliable means of transporting hydrocarbon products. The development of the offshore pipeline engineering competencies has followed the same outline as the one that was developed earlier for the onshore pipeline engineering competencies. A small reference group of experienced pipeline engineers from a range of different backgrounds and employers, including several reputable Perth-based operators, have teamed up with APGA representatives Chris Harvey of Chris Harvey Consulting and Eric Jas and Allison Selman of Atteris to work on the development of the Offshore Pipeline Engineering Competency Standards. Dr Andrew Palmer, who is a Keppel Chair Professor at the University of Singapore, and Dr Roger King of Corrosion Services, Manchester, UK, are both worldrenowned authorities in the field of marine pipelines and have offered their expertise to assist in reviewing the competencies. Recently, several pipeline consultants in Australia have put their hand up to assist in the development and review process.