The Control Centre is one of the most important aspects of operating a pipeline. Control Centre Operators, also known as CCOs, work around the clock to ensure our pipeline systems continue to operate safely and efficiently. Charlotte Hinds took time out of her busy schedule to discuss her role as one of our dedicated CCOs.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

I work 12-hour rotating shifts, a mix of day and night shifts. Once a shift begins, a shift handover is required, the goal of which is to advise the incoming operator of the scheduled pumping orders and any ongoing matters. Then, after reviewing the schedule and shift handover, I spend the remainder of my time carrying out scheduling orders and dealing with any matters that may arise. Some of my regular duties include monitoring the pipeline flow and pressure, and making adjustments when necessary. This includes starting and stopping pumps, directing product flow by means of valve movement as well as analyzing and responding to system alarms. I also liaise with other departments at Kinder Morgan Canada to ensure scheduling orders are executed and product quality is maintained.   

What is the most important task you perform?

One of the most vital roles of being a CCO is to respond safely and promptly to pipeline emergencies. Pipeline emergencies can come in various forms; CCOs are trained to be prepared for and to respond safely and quickly to all possible scenarios.

What is SCADA and how is it used to keep the pipeline safe?

SCADA stands for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition. It is our operating system and is the interface between the Control Centre and the pipeline. We send commands through SCADA and they are received and carried out using on-site PLC communications. We also receive data about the condition of the pipeline. The information about flows, pressures, tank levels and positions of valves is analyzed by our leak detection system and compared to a flow model. If any changes occur in the data that is outside the prescribed norm of the flow model, we look into it immediately to determine if any problems need to be addressed and resolved.

What type of education and training is required to become a CCO?

I completed the Chemical Engineering Technology program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT). At the time, my goal was to become an outside plant operator. I didn’t know that pipeline Control Centre Operators existed! I think any of NAIT’s engineering technology courses can lead you to a career as an operator. I have also worked with others who had prior experience as outside plant operators and/or in a trade before becoming a CCO.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

Being a CCO is a challenging but rewarding career. If I have to choose one thing I like best, it is the work-life balance. Working the shifts we work allows me to spend quality time with my family. It takes some getting used to, but once you find what works best for you, the benefits are amazing.