The people of pipelines: Darcy Strohschein, measurement specialist

The transmission pipeline industry is full of passionate people who bring decades of experience and expertise to their jobs. Their knowledge is instrumental to the safe and efficient operation and development of pipelines.

In this installment of the people of pipeline series, Darcy Strohschein tells us about his role as a measurement specialist with Inter Pipeline and about what almost a quarter-century on the job has taught him.

Darcy Strohschein, measurement specialist for the oil sands business segment with Inter Pipeline

Darcy Strohschein

Darcy Strohschein


Right at our Pipeline Control Center located in Sherwood Park, Alberta. Great location: centrally located in the province and the location is well suited and balanced to meet the pipeline operational business needs.

Time on the job:

Closing in on 24 years this fall and at the same location. To a younger person, it seems like forever. For me, I can still walk through the memories of my first day at work! Like the old saying (goes), “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life!”

How I got started in the industry:

Right out of high school and into a world of opportunity. With my career vision in mind, I signed-up for the two-year Instrumentation Engineering Technology program at NAIT. Never looked back. Spent the next four years at the Edmonton Gulf and Petro-Can refinery and completed my instrument apprentice before switching over into the world of pipelines. The refinery experience was excellent – came with the opportunity to work with many great people and work among the many disciplines. I worked on a wide variety of devices, controls and processes – all of which happened to naturally flow towards becoming a pipeline instrument technician and eventually taking on my current role as a specialist.

What my job entails:

Each day can be so much different than the last. One day in the office, next day out to a field site in Cold Lake (Alta.) or Fort McMurray (Alta.). One week travel, and the next week no travel. Off to Calgary for a company meeting or taking part in an engineering design review for a new station build. I also handle many requests from field staff who are on the ground and have a measurement or quality type question, or just simply need some advice. My position has me wearing many hats as needs and opportunities are everywhere.

Where my job fits within the life cycle of a pipeline:

At the project-feed stage, we help shape what a project might look like. I usually start to weigh-in on a project right from the beginning – helping to ensure the right and best-fit measurement equipment decisions are made with respect to overall pipeline measurement and quality instrumentation. I consider equipment selection, overall reliability, sparing philosophy, compatibility with existing infrastructure, contract obligations and include industry regulations. If we make the right choices, the life expectancy and operating efficiency goes up.

How I’ve been trained to respond to a pipeline emergency:

The industry as a whole trains us very well. Most of us have been through the fundamental courses and training exercises numerous times. Over and above being able to assist and play a part wherever the team needs, there are a number of sorts of pipeline emergencies. With my strong measurement-related background and experience, I am able to strongly weigh-in on volumetric pipeline balance concerns. I see myself as a solid asset – able to perform and assist others with line balance issues and weigh-in on topics and decisions that come forward.

What I most enjoy about my job:

Love the variety. No two days are ever alike. The flexibly, growth, learning opportunities, people, teaching, coaching, mentoring . . . and this all comes with some travel. I’m able to introduce and integrate new technology, able to make a difference and see it. I would not want to be here or anywhere else if I could not positively contribute.

What you might be surprised to learn about my job:

Even with all my experience, I still ask questions and love to challenge the status quo. Ask, “Why are we doing what we currently do?” Ask, “Is there a better way?” Ask, “Is the person who is providing you the answer providing the best, correct answer?”  Remember, “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything,” – Mark Twain.

Now that you’ve learned about Darcy, get to know our other People of Pipelines:

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies who operate approximately 115,000 kilometres of pipelines in Canada. In 2012, these energy highways moved approximately 1.2 billion barrels of liquid petroleum products and 5.1 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.