The people of pipelines: Ken Koscielski, pipeline protection technician

Pipelines operate underneath us 24/7 transporting the energy we use to heat our homes, fuel our vehicles and manufacture many of the household items we use every day. The pipeline industry also employs thousands of Canadians. In fact, according to the Petroleum Services Association of Canada close to 500,000 people across the country work for the oil and gas industry, directly or indirectly.

Many of these people work with pipelines and it’s their job to make sure pipelines operate safely and efficiently. It’s thanks to their hard work and commitment to safety that pipelines are one of the safest and most efficient means of transporting large quantities of crude oil and natural gas over land.

With this in mind, for this week’s post we spoke to one such pipeline worker about the responsibilities of his job and how his work contributes to the overall safety of the pipeline industry.

Meet Ken Koscielski, Pipeline Protection Technician for Kinder Morgan

Time on the job:

Five years, with 25 years field experience


Working throughout the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Current specific district includes portions of Burnaby and Coquitlam and all of Richmond.

Required safety training/tickets etc.:

Dig site with heavy equipment in the background

Ken Koscielski

  • Confined Space Entry
  • Confined Space Pre Entry
  • Standard  First Aid & CPR
  • Ground Disturbance – Level II
  • H2S and other toxic Atmospheres
  • Basic Line Locating – Tech I
  • Standard First Aid & CPR
  • Transportation of Dangerous Goods
  • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System
  • Mentally Active Driving Program
  • Industrial Firefighter Level II

What my job entails:

My job involves working with third party contractors to ensure that they comply with Kinder Morgan’s Pipeline Protection Requirements.

Normally, I receive notification of a ground disturbance from the BC One Call Centre through our Petris computer management system and I determine the extent of Kinder Morgan’s involvement depending on the distance the proposed ground disturbance (“excavation”) will be from our pipeline. For example, if the excavation is within 7.5 metres from the pipeline I must remain on site to supervise/inspect all of the excavation/installation.

How my job contributes to the overall safety of the pipeline industry:

As the Pipeline Protection Technician I am primarily out in the field working directly with the third party contractors to ensure that they meet all the ground disturbance pipeline protection requirements established by Kinder Morgan. As the on-site inspector, I make sure that the responsible party will follow the requirements in order to prevent any contact with the pipeline.

How I’ve trained to respond to a pipeline emergency, like a spill:

I have the emergency response training as indicated above and I ‘ve also taken part in many Incident Command System training exercises instituted by Kinder Morgan, which includes a tabletop mock spill scenario.

As well, I have taken part in many training boom deployment and oil spill recovery exercises over the years.

What my role would be in a pipeline emergency:

In the event of an emergency in the field, if I deem necessary, my role is to report the incident to the Control Centre in enough detail that they can assess the situation and determine the level of response. Once the appropriate emergency response (PDF) has unfolded I would assist where needed.

What you might be surprised to learn about my job:

The average person would be surprised to learn about how much paperwork is involved in my job. I am required to make extensive documentation before, during and after any kind of activity involving our pipeline/right-of-way.

Ken is just one of the many dedicated people working in the pipeline industry to ensure that pipelines operate safely. Next week we’ll introduce you to another: Dale McClary, Pipeline Maintenance Technician for Kinder Morgan.

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies who operate approximately 110,000 kilometres of pipelines in Canada. In 2011, 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.