IPC 2020: Global pipeline technology gathering goes virtual.

Every two years, there’s a pipeline conference in Calgary, Alberta, where pipeline professionals from around the globe gather to share, and learn about, the latest and greatest technical developments in energy pipelines.

The International Pipeline Conference (IPC) is one of the most important global forums for the pipeline industry. The technical advances presented at IPC often go on to become industry standards and best practices.

Normally, IPC attracts close to 1,300 delegates from more than 40 countries. But nothing’s normal in the age of COVID-19. So, this year’s conference will be a virtual experience from September 28 to 30, under the theme “Innovating. Collaborating. Sharing.”

For a peek into this year’s virtual event, About Pipelines caught up (virtually, of course) with the Chair of IPC 2020, William R. (Bill) Byrd, from his home office in Houston, Texas.


Can you start by talking about why this conference is important for the global pipeline industry?


The pipeline industry always has eyes on moving the ball forward. As an industry, we’re continuously seeking to get better… and we’re constantly asking ourselves, “what have we learned?” and “how can we improve?”

There’s no other pipeline conference in the world with this kind of opportunity to expose delegates to the same high-quality, peer-reviewed content on new developments in pipeline technologies. So, as with past conferences, IPC 2020 will expose participants to the best technical knowledge. IPC is really the showcase of our efforts to keep getting better at what we do.


You had to make several big changes for this year’s conference. How did COVID-19 change your plans? And what does that mean for the quality of the conference?


Although it’s being delivered in a virtual format, I’m happy to say IPC 2020 retains the same high-quality technical content delegates are used to receiving.

There will be 200-plus peer-reviewed papers from around the globe covering the newest developments in pipeline research and technology. The rigour in reviewing those papers is the same as in the past. Many authors will present papers by video, with live Q&A sessions. We also have a renowned energy industry keynote speaker. Maria van der Hoeven is former Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), who’s known for her work in climate and energy policy.

In addition, we’ve retained discussion panels, luncheon speakers, and tutorials for participants who are still developing their technical knowledge.


How do you measure success for a conference that will look so different from those of the past?


Success for this conference is the high volume of quality technical content. We’ve achieved that! Another measure of success is healthy representation from the pipeline industry. We’ve done that too. Several pipeline companies took the opportunity to buy virtual seats in bulk so their employees could participate. And we’re all hoping conditions are right for everyone to gather in person for the next IPC in 2022.

Access to advanced technology is critical for all aspects of pipeline construction, operations and safety. CEPA is a proud to partner in hosting IPC alongside the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). This gathering of global pipeline technical specialists, including CEPA members – sharing the latest developments and technologies – has the potential to make our industry even stronger and safer. About Pipelines thanks IPC 2020 Chair, Bill Byrd, for his contribution to this blog post.