Expanding pipeline industry in Louisiana

A local community college program is aiming to train students wanting to enter the pipeline industry.

Pipeline industry expanding in Louisiana

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The pipeline industry is prominent here in the state and quickly expanding.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, there are 20 natural gas pipeline projects queued up in Louisiana. Seven projects completed construction this year.

The map of Louisiana is covered with pipelines.

“Our chancellor says that it looks like a spaghetti bowl because there are pipeline running everywhere because we have both liquid and gas pipelines running through the state,” said David Hayes, director of workforce solutions at SOWELA Technical Community College.

SOWELA is starting a Pipeline Training Academy to train high-school students in foundational skills, those that want to enter the industry, and those that want to move higher that are already in the industry.

“There’s nothing really in the area that is training people for the pipeline industry," Hayes said. "There’s a few smaller things that happen in Houston that I’m aware of but nothing that is a true program or academy like this that will have the impact that we hope this one has.”

The academy will have certification programs in more than just pipeline construction, it will also provide certification in operation and management. The curriculum will also focus on more than just natural gas, but water and other aspects of the pipeline industry.

One of the features of the program will be an outdoor pipeline loop that will allow students to gain hands-on experience. The loop will be able to carry both natural gas and water.

“By having this facility, we will be able to do just that, train people on very specific pieces of operation and maintenance of a pipeline without having to shut down a pipeline,” Hayes said.

Construction on the pipeline training loop will start early next year. The pipeline academy will be up and running by fall 2020.

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