Sowela to offer pipeline training

Through a $1 million partnership with TC Energy, Sowela Technical Community College plans to create Louisiana’s only oil pipeline training academy. The partnership will allow for the construction of a physical pipeline loop structure at the Lake Charles campus, where students will gain hands-on training at the TC Energy Pipeline Academy.

Though massive pipeline networks cross Southwest Louisiana, Sowela Chancellor Neil Aspinwall said the nearest training facility for pipelines maintenance and operation is in Oklahoma. He said adding such training to Sowela’s workforce development curriculum will help “build the workforce of Southwest Louisiana, the state of Louisiana and the nation.”

“The creation of the TC Energy Pipeline Training Academy is a great and unique opportunity for Sowela to partner with one of the world’s largest energy companies to provide training in a specific field that touches all aspects of the Louisiana economy,” Aspinwall said.

As Southwest Louisiana’s economy stays at record highs, in large part due to the presence of petrochemical industry, there is a growing need to fill jobs that service the pipelines that many facilities rely on, Aspinwall said.

“These pipelines allow the industries to import and export their products efficiently and effectively. However, in order to ensure that these pipelines remain operational, they have to be properly maintained to ensure the products being transported enter, travel and leave the pipeline safely and securely,” he said.

Alex Stroman, TC Energy manager of government relations and community affairs, said the partnership with Sowela is beneficial for the start of new careers in oil and gas, as well as for continuing education opportunities for those who have been in the field for years.

“Together we can teach and craft a new workforce not only skilled to meet the needs of TC Energy and our industry partners today, but to help this industry’s labor force continue to meet the challenges of tomorrow,” he said.

The academy will include a pipeline industry advisory committee to help implement curriculum and course offerings tailored to the industry’s needs. Students will train in pipeline testing, compliance, security, monitoring and repair, Stroman said.

David Hayes, Sowela executive director of workforce solutions, said pipeline construction is expected to begin by the fall of 2020 and the program will launch in summer 2021.

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TC Energy is partnering with Sowela Technical Community College to create Louisiana’s only oil pipeline training academy.

Rick Hickman

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