What do young people really think of pipelines?

This is the first 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.

Prime Minister John Diefenbaker officially opened the Trans-Canada Highway in 1962. Over 50 years later, it’s still connecting Canadians. Like highways, pipelines are also critical infrastructure and decisions made now about pipeline projects will affect Canadians for generations.

That’s why young people’s opinions about pipelines matter. It’s their future, too.


Meet Nicolas Kudeljan, 24. He’s a junior mechanical engineer in Montreal and works with an engineering consulting firm on pipeline projects.

As a young person, he’ll be affected by decisions on proposed pipeline projects. As a young person working in the industry, he’ll be among those responsible for continuously improving pipeline performance in the years ahead. So, what does Nicolas think about pipelines and Canada’s future? Here’s his perspective.

Young people of pipelines: Nicolas Kudeljan

Name: Nicolas Kudeljan

Age: 24

Home: Montreal, Que.

Job: Junior mechanical engineer

Employer: Johnston-Vermette Groupe Conseil inc.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering 

5 questions with a junior engineer from Montreal

Q. What’s your perspective on pipelines, safety and the environment?

For a lot of my friends and relatives, the pipeline industry is a controversial field of work. In Quebec, there is a lot of opposition from various groups who disapprove of the oil and gas sector as a whole.

I believe a lot of the fear and reluctance towards pipelines comes from unfamiliarity with the technical procedures and preventive measures that are taken into account in the design phase. From my point of view, the people I work with and the mentality in place are top-notch; we all strive to deliver a safe, efficient product that goes above and beyond the industry standards. Seeing the level of care and attention to details that goes into building a pipeline is a very reassuring thing to me.

Improving safety and environmental protection in pipelines can only be done from within the industry rather than through unilateral protests.

Q. What is the biggest misconception people have about pipelines that you would like to correct?

While it may not be the biggest misconception, I’ve found through casual conversation that a lot of people assume that a pipeline goes through landowners’ lots with or without their consent, and that the people affected have no choice but to consent or face legal repercussions. In reality, through individual meetings and negotiations with landowners, there is an extremely high project approval rate for each lot along the centerline (or right-of-way). The vocal complaints we read in the news typically never come from individuals who own land affected by the project.

Q. What role do you see pipelines playing in the future of your province?

In the case of Quebec, there is huge potential for development in both the oil and gas sector and the related pipeline industry. With humongous untapped resources at Anticosti (Island) and the surrounding area, it is only a matter of time and social acceptability before the development of the region may take place. The potential is huge, and hopefully within a decade or two we will have seized the opportunity.

Q. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?

I am an accomplished runner, love bouldering (rock climbing) and also take swing and ballroom dance classes. An avid painter, both through digital and traditional media, I also enjoy airbrushing and model making.

Check out these pictures of Nicolas enjoying his favourite activities and take a look at a digital art piece he’s working on.

Q. Tell us about your involvement with the Young Pipeliners Association of Canada (YPAC).

The pipeline industry is currently characterized by a huge age gap. Most pipeliners are either fresh out of school or about to retire. With a lot of experienced senior engineers still in the industry, there are many opportunities for transferring knowledge and lessons learned in order to maintain a certain level of “pipelining wisdom.” This is why I’m working on expanding YPAC by forming a Montreal chapter.

If you’re interested in learning more about YPAC, visit their website.

Share your pipeline perspective by joining the conversation on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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.