What a young Ontarian thinks about Canada’s pipelines

Selyn Holmes is like a lot of Canadian 20-somethings. She likes to run, hit up CrossFit classes, travel, watch World Junior hockey and spend time with family and friends. And, like many Canadians her age, she has opinions about pipelines.

Selyn Holmes (second from left) with her family at a World Junior hockey championship in Russia.

Selyn Holmes (second from left) with her family at a World Junior hockey championship in Russia.

Holmes has a unique perspective because, as an engineer working for a pipeline company, the Sarnia, Ont., native sees first hand how Canada’s pipelines are designed, operated and maintained.

In this “Young people of pipelines” post, Holmes shares her opinion on pipeline safety and the role pipelines will play in the future of her community, her province and her country.

Young people of pipelines: Selyn Holmes

Selyn Holmes with her husband.

Selyn Holmes with her husband.

Name: Selyn Holmes

Age: 25

Home: Sarnia, Ont.

Job: Engineer in Training II

Employer: Enbridge Pipelines Inc.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering

6 questions with Selyn Holmes

Q: Tell us about your job as an engineer in training.

My role is to provide engineering support to ensure the safe and reliable operation of our pipelines and facilities. I help plan and execute maintenance and repair work on our systems as well as provide input on design, from the operations perspective, on larger scale projects.

Q: How do you help keep Canada’s pipelines safe?

Anytime integrity or maintenance work must be completed on our pipelines, I have to make sure the approach we take will not have any adverse effects on people or the environment; this sometimes means being creative and thinking outside the box when determining how best to access a site or where to stage equipment.

I get insight from many different perspectives and that helps drive me to ensure whatever work I’m doing – be it designing a piping-configuration change or a replacing a section of line – I’m keeping safety of people and protection of the environment as the top priorities. The work we do in the industry could have a big impact on someone, and the goal is to ensure that it’s a positive one.

Q: Why did you decide on a career in the pipeline industry?

I grew up in Sarnia, Ont., which is a city that relies heavily on the oil and gas industry. I’ve seen how the support of these large companies can make things happen and fuel a prosperous community. Being a part of the pipeline industry helps to fuel the lifestyle and the lives of people every day by ensuring their energy is transported in a safe and reliable manner.

Q: What is a common misconception people have about pipelines that you would like to correct? 

Something I hear a lot is the misconception that we don’t care about people’s safety or the health of the environment because we transport oil. The truth is we take our responsibility to safely transport oil very seriously. Proper maintenance of our existing facilities is crucial to make sure our lines run safely. Every time we have to conduct integrity work or take apart a piece of equipment, we know that it’s a serious job and proper safety and environmental considerations need to go into the planning and execution of all our work.

Q: What role do you see pipelines playing in the future of your province and the country?

Ontario is the most densely populated province in Canada, and because of this, I think pipelines will continue to play an important role in fueling people’s way of life, especially as our demand for oil increases and biofuel becomes a more widely used commodity. I think, on the whole, Canada has opportunities to expand into other markets and become a leader in oil production on a global scale. We’ll need pipelines to provide that access to make that a true possibility.

Q: Is there anything else about your pipeline perspective that you would like to share?

Compared to other sectors in the oil and gas industry, pipelines are unique since they span far distances and impact so many people. Because of that, we as the pipeline industry have a responsibility to the public to operate and maintain our facilities as safely as possible; it’s a responsibility we take seriously every hour of the day.

When I look at the steps we take to ensure our pipeline is running safely – from tool run inspections (in-line inspection), leak detection and emergency preparedness – I’m very proud to be a part this industry. I hope people can understand and appreciate the steps we take to ensure their energy is delivered safely and reliably.

This is the second 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.