Young people of pipelines: The West Coast perspective

Jeremy Groves

Jeremy Groves en route to a field inspection for a pipeline project.

What does the future of Canada’s pipeline industry look like? Well, it looks a lot like this guy.

Meet Jeremy Groves. He may be in the air in this picture, but as a geotechnical engineer in Vancouver, the 28 year old spends most of his time thinking about the ground . . . and how to protect the pipelines beneath it.

In this “Young people of pipelines” post, learn how Groves is helping to improve Canada’s pipeline system. Plus, hear his perspective on the future of the industry he’s helping to shape.

Young people of pipelines: Jeremy Groves

Name: Jeremy Groves

Age: 28

Hometown: Brandon, Man.

Lives in: Vancouver, B.C.

Job: Geotechnical engineer

Employer: BGC Engineering Inc.

Education: Bachelor’s in geological engineering, master’s in civil engineering

7 questions with Jeremy Groves

Q: What does a geotechnical engineer do?

Geotechnical engineering is a combination of geology and civil engineering that uses the principles of earth processes and soil and rock mechanics to help understand how a structure – road, bridge, building, pipeline – will interact with the ground.

This discipline contributes to all stages of the pipeline lifecycle, from pipeline routing and feasibility assessments, to geotechnical pipeline design in the trench, to pipeline operations.

Jeremy Groves 3

I spend upwards of 20 per cent of my time working in the field throughout the year. Field work is an essential component of our work because that is where the pipelines and ground conditions meet!

Q: Why did you decide to work in the pipeline industry?

For two and a half years, I worked on a (graduate) research project to study the effects of slow-moving landslides on buried natural gas distribution pipelines.* The research was both challenging and rewarding on a personal and professional level, and the knowledge I gained was applicable to real industry problems. Naturally, I transitioned from researching to working on pipeline projects in the geotechnical engineer industry.

*Groves’s research was done through the Advanced Soil Pipe Interaction Research group in the civil engineering department at the University of British Colombia.

Q: How does your job help improve pipeline safety?

BGC’s culture enables me to continue to contribute to the research project that I worked on throughout my post-graduate studies at UBC; the findings from that research are intended to help develop guidelines and criteria to determine the amount of ground displacement associated with the safe operational limits of buried gas distribution pipelines.

I’m also able to contribute to BGC’s geohazard management program to help pipeline operators minimize the likelihood of pipeline failure from ground movements and river erosion by identifying and managing geological hazards before they occur. CEPA recently posted a story about this program on its blog.

Q: What’s the biggest misconception people have about pipelines that you would like to correct?

It’s maybe not well understood that new proposed projects aren’t the first of their kind; rather, they are additions to an already existing network of pipelines in Canada that, as a whole, has an excellent track record of pipeline operation and maintenance practices that have been developed over 60 years of practice.

One of the major advantages that these new projects have over existing, older pipelines is they are designed and constructed with state-of-the-art practices and engineering design, making them even safer to operate and reducing their overall impacts and risks to the public and the environment.

Q: What role do you see pipelines playing in the future of this country?

Pipelines will continue to play a big role in our country and all over the world. Pipelines, whether for transporting petroleum, fresh water or waste water, are essential to our lives in Canada. As the industry continues to evolve, the principles used for design and construction will help make pipelines even more safe and reliable.

Jeremy Groves Q: What do you enjoy doing when you are not at work?

Whether it’s car camping along the coast, split boarding in the backcountry or just hanging out with friends on the beach in the city, I like to keep active in my spare time.

Q: What do you hope to achieve with your career?

Geotechnical engineering is a profession focused on the building and enhancement of the necessary infrastructure to support our society, and I hope to contribute to projects in the pipeline industry that provide significant value and ongoing beneficial impacts.

This is the third post in CEPA’s “Young people of pipelines” blog series, which features interviews with members of the Young Pipeliners Association of Canada, an organization made up of current and aspiring young professionals working in Canada’s pipeline industry.

Read other posts in the series:

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies who operate approximately 115,000 kilometres of pipelines in Canada. In 2013, these energy highways moved approximately 1.2 billion barrels of liquid petroleum products and 5.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Our members transport 97 per cent of Canada’s daily natural gas and onshore crude oil from producing regions to markets throughout North America.