This month’s Pipeline Technology Podcast episode sponsored by Pipeline & Gas Journal features Andy McDowell and Mike Reed discussing this year’s Pipeline & Gas Journal award winners, ways the awards have changed since last year, and how to prepare for next year’s application.
In this month’s episode, you will learn about how the selection and voting process works and stays confidential, certain award recipients that stood out to them this year and how it is not always about creating a new technology, but how the application of the technology needs to be new and noteworthy.
2022 Pipeline and Gas Journal Awards Full Episode Transcript:
- Andy McDowell is the Senior Vice President, Media at Gulf Energy Information and publisher of Pipeline & Gas Journal. Connect with Andy on LinkedIn.
- Michael Reed is the Editor-in-chief of Pipeline & Gas Journal (PGJ). Connect with Michael on LinkedIn.
- Pipeline & Gas Journal is the essential resource for technology, industry information, and analytical trends in the midstream oil and gas industry. For more information on how to become a subscriber, visit pgjonline.com/subscribe.
- 2022 Pipeline & Gas Journal Awards
- Upstream is the operation stage in the oil and gas industry that involves exploration and production.
- Midstream is the processing, storing, transporting and marketing of oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids.
- Downstream is the process involved in converting oil and gas into the finished product, including refining crude oil into gasoline, natural gas liquids, diesel, and a variety of other energy sources. The closer an oil and gas company is to the process of providing consumers with petroleum products, the further downstream the company is said to be.
- Young Pipeline Professionals USA (YPP USA) exists to educate young U.S. professionals about the pipeline industry, create leadership opportunities for the next generation of pipeline professionals within YPP and other industry organizations, foster relationships, and build a network for the advancement of the industry.
- ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) refers to the sustainability movement in oil and gas to continue operating safely, in compliance, and in a responsible manner to do no harm while achieving business objectives.
- NGL (Natural Gas Liquids) is natural gas that has been cooled down to liquid form for ease and safety of non-pressurized storage or transport.
2022 PGJ Awards Full Episode Transcript:
Announcer: The “Pipeline Technology Podcast,” brought to you by Pipeline & Gas Journal, the decision making resource for pipeline and midstream professionals. Now, your host, Russel Treat.
Russel Treat: Welcome to the Pipeline Technology Podcast, episode 29. On this episode, our guests are Andy McDowell and Mike Reed. We’re going to talk to Andy and Mike about the recent 2022 Pipeline & Gas Journal Award winners. Gentlemen, welcome to the Pipeline Technology Podcast.
Andy McDowell: Thanks, Russel, for having us. It’s great to be here as always.
Mike Reed: Thanks, Russel. Good to talk to you again.
Russel: Guys, probably, we ought to do introductions, even though you’ve been on before. It might be helpful just for the listeners that might be new on this episode. Andy, if you don’t mind, just tell us a little bit about your background.
Andy: Yeah, absolutely. My name is Andy McDowell. I’m senior vice president of media at Gulf Energy Information. We are the publishers of Pipeline & Gas Journal and the hosts of the Pipeline & Gas Journal Awards. I’ve been with this group for almost 18 years and enjoyed it. It’s a good spot.
Mike: Yeah. My name is Mike Reed. I’m the editor-in-chief of Pipeline & Gas Journal. I’ve been with the publication for about 10 years. I’ve been in my current position about four, I think, now. I came from a regular newspaper background prior to midstream. I help out with the awards. That’s pretty much it.
Russel: Cool. Probably a good place to start is for those that don’t know, what are the pipeline awards?
Andy: The Pipeline & Gas Journal Awards are a set of awards we launched in 2021. They follow similar models that we run across some of our other brands in the upstream and downstream sector and pretty much as a global, well-recognized, renowned journal in the Pipeline & Gas Journal space, I should say.
It’s just a night and a process to bring together and recognize the excellence in technology, the excellence in projects, and just put the spotlight on it. We highlight certain articles and topics and themes throughout the year, through Mike’s content, and stuff like that, but this is just a chance to get everybody together in an event setting and highlight the ones that stood out above the rest.
Russel: I will say it is a fun event. You guys do a great job. I had a big part of my team at the one that was just held here a few weeks ago. Everybody had a wonderful time. It’s black tie optional, and my whole crew was in black tie.
Andy: You even had a black felt cowboy hat member of your team as well. We were taking the full formality, so I love it.
Russel: I was ashamed a little bit about that. I realized that I left my black felt Stetson at the house, and I should have brought it, because then there would have been two of us, right?
Andy: Yes, exactly.
Russel: I thought that was well played by Ross Adams.
Andy: Anytime you can dust off the tuxedo and practice your bowtie tying again, it’s always fun.
Russel: Exactly. I agree. Andy, if you would, tell us about the selection process. How does that work for the awards?
Andy: Absolutely. To confirm the awards were a couple of weeks ago in late November. That process starts usually in the March-April timeframe.
We run a series of advertisements and announcements across all the Pipeline & Gas Journal media announcing the nominations process and when that window was open. That window lasts roughly about three months, where nominations are accepted via a website portal.
General information is provided about everything as to the category is going to be nominated in, the type of technology, and submit some additional backup details there. That all happens in about three months.
The editor, Mike, and his team and some folks then get together and make the selections down to the finalists. Then the finalists are sent out to an independent third-party advisory board to ultimately select the winners that we recognize at that black tie event.
Russel: When we had this conversation in the past, I was very impressed by just the integrity and how that independent selection committee works. Maybe, you could tell us a little bit more about how you form that selection committee and how they do their work and how they keep that confidential in a process of high integrity.
Andy: Everything is housed in our event portal behind the scenes that we give access to each one of those individuals, where they can then come in and rank the finalists and grade the finalists based on the technical excellence, the engineering excellence.
If they happen to be employed by an organization where they don’t have expertise in a certain area, we ask them to recuse themselves from that particular topic that they’re not comfortable with.
Then, honestly, just the real blunt reasons, we don’t share who it is. We don’t share a lot of details about them, because we’ve learned through some of our other awards processes that are a little bit more established.
This is the second year for this particular award ceremony, but on the World Oil side, for example, we’ve had people reach out to finalists and try to take them to lunch and explain the technology in person.
Just to keep it all fair, we highlight the types of companies that help select those winners, but we usually don’t highlight the individuals themselves. Trust me, they’re experts in their field. The process is held close to the chest but done the right way.
Russel: That’s the thing about these awards that, to me, is very compelling is that there’s a lot of careful analysis occurring to make sure the right technologies get picked for the right reasons.
Andy: Exactly. Sometimes, too, I know there were a couple last year and a couple this year as well. We didn’t experience any ties, but it can come down to a quarter of a point or a tenth of a point that separates these technologies.
This is not a process where you have one technology that is just so far ahead of the rest. They’re all very close. They’re all taken very seriously. They’re all, like I said earlier, the best in their respective fields underneath the various topics. It’s an honor to be a finalist, and it’s even a bigger honor to be a winner.
Russel: It’s a tongue twister to try to read the award.
Andy: Acronyms are strong.
Russel: Oh, yes, I understand. The geeky tech is strong in that one right there.
Andy: It is. It is, for sure. Job well done. I know you point out that you’re a moderator of the event, too.
Russel: I’m very honored to do it. It’s a lot of fun. I get a big kick out of it, for sure. It’s a great event.
Let’s talk about the winners. Let’s talk about the tech. Mike, any particular one of the awards that jumped out at you guys this year is particularly noteworthy or interesting?
Mike: Well, sure. For me, I’m always happy to see an industry veteran honored. It was, to me, personally gratifying to see Dr. Dave Johnson of Energy Transfer be chosen for the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The same thing would go for Jesse Mitchell of Centurion who was chosen as the innovative thinker. Those two stood out in my mind. At the other end of the spectrum, we added a Young Pipeliner of the Year Award this year, an honor which went to Shanshan Wu of DNV USA.
Basically, though, I think what stands out most to me is just how pleased everyone is about receiving the award. The people that are there, there’s always a lot of high fives and smiles. It’s just obvious that they work hard on their technologies. I feel like the award is part of the payoff for that. It helps to show them what their peers in the industry think of them.
Aside from that, I was just very happy, because we have a lot of big companies that win and also enter, but we also have some – I don’t want to say small companies – but less known companies, and I think that it’s just an even bigger thrill for them sometimes.
Andy: Further on that note, too, Russel, I would just say even backing up to the nomination, in year one, we were having to do a lot of explaining as to, “OK, this is what we’re trying to do. This is how the process typically works.”
We ended up with about, if my memory serves me correct, 45 to 50 nominees. That almost doubled this year. The number of finalists went up significantly. The number of attendees we had in the room was up about two and a half times from the first-year event.
That, to me, is the greatest success is that we start the marketing, we get it out there, and people react that quickly to it. The number of individuals was very strong. We partnered with YPP, with the Young Pipeline Award, to help spread the word and their marketplace in that younger pipeline engineering world.
As we look forward to years to come, I’m just stoked just to see the numbers increase just like that. Year over year is fantastic.
Russel: From my standpoint, in these kinds of things, you tend to gravitate to the tech that you’re most familiar with, the domain you’ve worked in. Being a guy that grew up in measurement, the best advance and maintenance technology, that award went to Cheniere for their Ultrasonic Meter Diagnostic Program.
I managed to carve Rick Ledesma out and have a conversation with him and ask him a bunch of questions about what they were doing and how they were doing it. I know enough about that. I could dig in.
That was interesting, how they went about doing what they did, and the benefits they got to in terms of improving their overall meter effectiveness across the company by utilizing technology they already had in the company but utilizing it a different way.
One of the things I would say about the awards is it’s not necessarily about building new technology. It could be about taking existing technologies, just figuring out how to apply it to a new problem. It’s one of those things that are helping the industry
Andy: No, that’s a good point, too. I should have mentioned it earlier about the qualification process. We do require that the new technology or the new innovation is implemented within the last 12 months, which helps keep it relevant and what the industry is experiencing on an everyday basis.
Like you just said, it doesn’t necessarily have to be brand new tech, but it has to be the application of that technology or that solution or service that then ultimately helps improve business conditions, improves ESG, whatever the particular topic or theme is, it all starts with that tech, whether it’s new or newly applied in a different way.
Russel: Exactly. Exactly. Was there anything else, any of the other awards that you think we ought to talk about?
The other thing that I would call out was the Best Pipeline Integrity and the award that Enbridge got, and that was a programmatic award. Again, it was an application of technology more so than it was a specific new technology, but certainly a new application, a significant improvement to operations and safety.
Mike: No, to me, it’d be hard to single any of the others out in part because what they do is so complicated.
Andy: It is the Pipeline Technology Podcast. I’m sure the listeners are interested in certain tech that we have.
Mike, you might touch on that, too. We obviously write about the finalists and certain things like that. All the content specifics on each one of the awards and specific technologies are available through multiple forms of media for those listeners interested in diving more into it. It does come with a little bit more meat to it.
Mike: Yeah, it does. Certainly a few of these folks have written papers for us before. The one Sherwin Williams did on PipeClad 2060 MRO, basically they had a paper for us after.
I’d seen him present at one time. I asked if they could send something along for that, they did. Then, lo and behold, they entered and won an award for it. That stood out for me.
Russel: The other thing we probably ought to talk about, too, is we’re focused here on this conversation about who won, but there’s a lot to be said just about the nominees, because there was a lot of things that are nominated that didn’t win, but they all deserve recognition on their own merit.
Andy: That’s back to what I was saying to. There’s so many of these that come in, not only just second or third, but a really, really close second and third. We always say and we truly believe that just to be announced as a finalist is a great honor. It definitely puts you in a category of the best of the best in our midstream space.
With the additional exposure that you receive, and as Mike said, a lot of those kind of either stem from or eventually turn into technical papers and things like that. You’re definitely in an elite group as a finalist or as a potential eventual winner there.
Russel: Yeah, absolutely. Maybe, a good segue here is to talk about when the nominations open again.
I remember last year one of the things I got, I had a number of people who I knew ping me within a day or two after the awards and say, “Hey, how come we didn’t get considered?” I’m like, “Well, you didn’t get nominated. You need to be nominated to be considered.” How does that work?
Andy: Yeah, sure. It’s a three-month window. Typically opens up, I would say, mid to late March and then runs through mid to late June, early July. Specific dates for 2023 have not been announced yet.
However, we will be putting all of that together and building the marketing collateral, and that will be coming out via multiple Pipeline & Gas Journal channels starting in, I would say, probably January, February, next year.
It’s typically about a 30-day heads-up as to, “Hey, get your ideas ready. Get your tech thoughts ready.” These are when the nominees will be opening up for that three-month window.
Russel: Awesome. Then, why don’t you guys tell us a little bit about the pipeline project of the year because that’s one of the capstone things, because those are big projects that have been completed.
Mike: Yeah, I can tell you a little bit about that. It went to Mariner East 2 Pipeline by Energy Transfer. It went into service fully in February of the year. It’s Energy Transfer’s 350-mile pipeline. It withstood numerous delays. Many of them were environmental in nature, governmental in nature.
What that is, is a mostly 20-inch diameter pipe that carries about 300,000 barrels per day capacity of NGL. Imagine, excuse me, your listeners all know, that’s pretty much in this case results in ethane, propane, and butane. We decided to honor it, the judges and all, primarily because it’s a pretty good sized pipeline that got completed this year.
Also, liquids like that get overlooked when people talk about pipelines and the significance of what they’re shipping, because it’s used in plastics. It’s used in your shoes, in your clothes, parts in your cars, baby diapers, etc., your cell phone. A lot of people just don’t know the significance of what’s being hauled in a pipeline.
Russel: How fundamentally important it is to our entire economy.
Russel: I would say that that project needs to get recognized simply for the fact that got completed.
Mike: I know. That’s what I was alluding to.
Russel: Exactly. People that work in our space, they’re aware of the current environment that we’re operating in. That was a very controversial project, but also a very important project to industry in the Northeast United States.
Mike: In the best of times, as far as pipeline construction goes, 350 miles is a pretty significant amount of pipeline.
Russel: Yeah, yeah. Particularly 20-inch NGL, that’s a pretty substantial pipeline, for sure. Guys, what would you like to leave us with in terms of what you’d want the listeners to know or to take away from our conversation?
Andy: From my side, Russel, like I was alluding to earlier, we’re just so excited about how quickly the popularity of the awards has grown.
We know of a couple of other associations in our space have awards and feature certain projects, where we feel that the specific technologies and those technical companies and integrity companies. This just helped provide an opportunity to recognize the best of the best in our industry.
For me, the excitement’s all about the future, where that leads us from the award ceremony as a whole. It’s definitely something we’re looking to continue to invest in, continue to expand or whatever we can, build more awareness.
Stay tuned for 2023. We’ll have information out soon on the awards. Hopefully, we’ll be able to celebrate another successful midstream award ceremony later next year.
Russel: I know I’m looking forward to it. I know my team is looking forward to it. Again, for anybody’s listening, I would just say it’s an awesome event. Everybody that I know that’s been just pretty much raves about. It’s not just fun to see people recognized, it’s good time.
Andy: It’s absolutely right. It’s always good. Especially in today’s post COVID world, it’s great. We’re starting to get back on events and see people face to face again. This is a very, very close knit, friendly industry. It’s nice to be able to have an excuse to get back together, celebrate, see folks you haven’t seen in a while. We’d like the process and look forward to the next one.
Russel: Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming on and talking about this. For all you out there that are doing interesting stuff, be looking for the awards nominations to open, and please submit. With that, we’ll say goodbye. Thank you, gentlemen.
I hope you enjoyed this month’s episode of the Pipeline Technology Podcast, our conversation with Andy and Mike. If you’d like to support the podcast, the best way to do that is to leave us a review. You can leave us a review on Apple Podcast, Google Play, Stitcher, SoundCloud wherever you happen to listen.
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Thanks for listening. I’ll talk to you next month.
Transcription by CastingWords