This week’s Pipeliners Podcast episode features several conversations recorded in-person during the AGA 2021 Operations Conference & Biennial Exhibition & Fall Committee Meetings.
In this episode, you will hear Pipeliners Podcast host Russel Treat talk to the following guests in this order: Mike Slusarz of AGA, Alfred Musgrove of Pacific Gas & Electric, Michael Falk of Burns McDonnell, Steve Allen of Energy WorldNet, Anson Wong of Southern California Gas, Christopher De Leon of ADV Integrity, Philip La Sosa of TRC, and Christina Sames of AGA.
Listen for insights from each guest about what they learned during the AGA conference and during the Gas Control committee meetings.
AGA 2021 Operations Conference: Show Notes, Links, and Insider Terms
- AGA (American Gas Association) represents companies delivering natural gas safely, reliably, and in an environmentally responsible way to help improve the quality of life for their customers every day. AGA’s mission is to provide clear value to its membership and serve as the indispensable, leading voice and facilitator on its behalf in promoting the safe, reliable, and efficient delivery of natural gas to homes and businesses across the nation.
- The annual AGA Operations Conference is the natural gas industry’s largest gathering of natural gas utility and transmission company operations management from across North America and the world. During the conference, participants share technical knowledge, ideas, and practices to promote the safe, reliable, and cost-effective delivery of natural gas to the end-user.
- The 2021 AGA Operations Conference & Biennial Exhibition & Fall Committee Meetings took place October 4-7 in Kissimmee, Florida at the Gaylord Palms hotel.
- Mike Slusarz is Manager, Operations and Engineering at American Gas Association (AGA). Connect with Mike on LinkedIn.
- Alfred Musgrove is the Chair of the AGA Gas Control Committee and GCS&S Manager, CRM Processes, and Training at Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). Connect with Alfred on LinkedIn.
- Michael Falk is a Project Manager for Burns McDonnell. Connect with Michael on LinkedIn.
- Steve Allen is the Executive Director of Pipeline Safety for Energy Worldnet (EWN). Connect with Steve on LinkedIn.
- Anson Wong is an Engineer in the Distribution Integrity Management Program (DIMP) at Southern California Gas. Connect with Anson on LinkedIn.
- Christopher De Leon is the Director of Pipeline Integrity for ADV Integrity, Inc. Connect with Christopher on LinkedIn.
- Philip La Sosa works for TRC, an engineering consulting company that supports clients in the utility business.
- Christina Sames is the SVP for Safety, Operations, and Security at AGA. Connect with Christina on LinkedIn.
AGA 2021 Operations Conference: Full Episode Transcript
Russel Treat: Welcome to the Pipeliners Podcast, episode 208, sponsored by EnerSys Corporation, providers of POEMS, the Pipeline Operations Excellence Management System, compliance and operations software for the pipeline control center to address control room management, SCADA, and audit readiness. Find out more about POEMS at EnerSysCorp.com.
Announcer: The Pipeliners Podcast, where professionals, Bubba geeks, and industry insiders share their knowledge and experience about technology, projects, and pipeline operations. And now, your host, Russel Treat.
Russel: Thanks for listening to the Pipeliners Podcast. I appreciate you taking the time, and to show that appreciation, we give away a customized YETI tumbler to one listener every episode. This week, our winner is Sean Morton with Colt Midstream. Congratulations, Sean, your YETI is on its way. To learn how you can win this signature prize, stick around until the end of the episode.
This week, we’re doing something a little bit different. I recently attended the AGA Operations Conference in Orlando. It’s been a few weeks ago, but it was quite an event. At that conference, we set up a place where we could grab people off the floor and interview them and talk to them.
Rather than listening to Russel talk about what happened at AGA Conference, we’re going to listen to a number of individuals and what they heard at the AGA Conference.
Mike, look, thanks for coming by. Tell us, what do you with AGA?
Mike Slusarz: I’m manager in Operations and Engineering Services. I staff the Gas Control Committee — thanks for being a part of that — as well as the supplemental gas committee. I’m also the R&D liaison for AGA.
Russel: R&D, so tell me about R&D. What does the R&D liaison do?
Mike: There’s a ton of stuff going on in Washington in terms of on the R&D front. You have Department of Energy funding money for gas projects, particularly the ARPA-E program, or the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy. They have a program right now called REPAIR, and it stands for [Rapid Encapsulation of Pipelines Avoiding Intensive Replacement].
Russel: Yeah, the government does great with acronyms, man. That’s so true.
Mike: They have a fantastic program that was kicked off earlier this year, and it’s a three-year program that’s focused on — they have 3D mapping, which is one thing, one part of the projects. Inspection tools that they’re trying to accelerate.
Then one of the big ones is — similar to a cured-in-place liner — they’re looking at technologies, coding internal pipe, particularly large diameter cast iron, to basically renew the pipe. They’re trying to do it at low cost, and then be captured in rate base. This is one of their goals, which is huge.
ARPA-E is one that will throw the resources at it, at the high-risk projects, and if something comes out of it, all the better for the industry. That’s something that’s going on. We meet part of the testing and specifications panel.
That’s a bunch of folks that get together quarterly and looks at the reward recipients. If they have questions for us, or they want some direction, they’ll come to us quarterly and say, “Hey, we’re doing this. This is our update. By the way, we need help with this, or we need…”
Whether it’s test specimens or failure modes, whatever the case may be, they’ll come and ask us. Then we’ll either get…If we have the answer, we’ll give it to them. If we don’t have the answer, we will find someone that has the answer for them. That’s just one speck of what’s going on.
Russel: That sounds like a lot.
Mike: It’s a three-year program, and it’s public. It’s $38 million worth of research over 10 separate projects. We’re hoping for some good things. Just one goal of rehabilitating cast iron pipe, there’s a lot of it in the ground.
Instead of replacing it, particularly the large diameter, if you can rehabilitate, keep it in the ground, that’s less space you’re using. You know where it is. When you go in and line it, you can then map it with tracking and traceability. There’s a lot of good concepts that can happen out of reusing what’s already in the ground.
Russel: Not to mention, just the impacts of not having to dig up that pipe and bury something else. That’s a huge deal, particularly in metropolitan areas, and particularly in older metropolitan areas. It’s huge.
Look, I want to ask you about the AGA Operations Conference. You’ve been here for pretty much the whole thing. I know that there was probably a lot of anxiety in AGA about pulling this off. How do you think it landed?
Mike: Just to be here with our peers, to be able to pull off this event has been no easy task. I won’t lie. When you say anxiety, that’s absolutely true. Everyone was a little on edge, saying, “Can we pull it off?” I think AGA has a history of pulling off things that people think might be difficult.
I’ve got to give credit to everybody that’s a part of AGA from all departments. Everyone seemed to have chipped in, from all the way from the top to everyone back in the office in D.C. The numbers were better than expected.
The exhibition hall, we’re looking at it now, it’s an absolutely amazing feat. Big thank you to yourself as an exhibitor and everyone else for making this event possible. Then the conference going on, when the conference tracks, I was able to sit in on one focused on R&D today that had well over 100 folks. That was amazing to be able to then, to social distance, too. There’s a lot of things that go on. Everyone was masked, and the safety protocols in place really helped us make this a safe event for everybody.
Russel: Listen, I want to put my hat off to AGA. I think you guys, obviously, the event’s smaller than it’s been in the past, but the energy is higher, for sure. I think that comes from people just being so glad to be out and be networking, connecting, and all that.
The event’s been awesome. The event has been awesome, so congrats. I can only imagine the blood, sweat, and tears and gnashing of teeth that was occurring leading up to this. I’m sure it was pretty extreme, given just the situation we find ourself in at the moment. Good job, man. Kudos.
Mike: Thank you so much. Thank you, and again, thank you again for being here. Again, the event wouldn’t be possible without folks like yourself.
Russel: I think this is a collaboration. We’ve got vendors, we’ve got operations, we’ve got the association. All of us are working together to educate one another, to get better at what we do, improve pipeline safety, all those things.
Certainly, I’m taking a long list of things to go work on. This is always a challenge when I come to one of these. I have a list of 50 things. You know what the challenge is?
Mike: Actually getting them done?
Russel: No, figuring out the one or two or three I’m actually going to do, because there’s no way I’m doing the 50.
Mike: That’s true, that’s true. You can hope and dream. My aspirations are great. The crazy thing to me is that we’re able to do this. We’re all here. We’re going to take those 50 things back, prioritize, try to get as most done, but then in six months, we’ll be New Orleans, ready to do it again.
Russel: We’ll come up with another list of 50 things, and we’ll pick another one or two that we’re going to do.
Mike: That’s right.
Russel: Listen, the last I want to ask you is, for the people that weren’t able to come, what would you want them to know, either about what was talked about in the Gas Control Committee, or anything else that you saw that you think is really important for people to be aware of?
Mike: One common theme in a lot of the committees this particular round was supplemental fuels, RNG, and hydrogen, and the future of the gas system network. A lot of conversation around existing systems, how you would handle something like that.
You look at gas control — sorry, supplemental gas — we’re talking about can a hydrogen blended system, how does that work with the liquefaction system and a peak shaving? As you know, hydrogen doesn’t liquefy. Not with the current process, anyway.
Do you have to then install more equipment to then separate it? How is that even possible? Again, when you’re blending and you’re liquefying, you’re taking it off the distribution pipe there. That’s a common theme.
A lot of differing, other things are the PIPES Act, how people are complying with advanced leak detection, further PHMSA audits in the control rooms. There is just a lot of conversation going on. I think that’s part of the big energy is that there is so much going on, almost to a fault, because there is so much going on.
Russel: Normally, these events, particularly the committee events, they happen twice a year. We haven’t had one, really, for a year and a half, so we’re behind.
Mike: The virtual events, based on the circumstances, that’s the best we could have done with those circumstances. I do agree. In-person, it does add that value of the sidebar conversations, meeting for a longer period of time, the engagement is different.
I have to kudos. I’m a big technology guy, so you have to give kudos where it’s due. Those systems, those virtual systems, the meeting systems that were put in place, they let us at least talk in a bigger group, besides the one-on-one phone calls. No one was traveling, and even then, even if you could travel, most people didn’t even want to.
Russel: You’re right. Again, I think you’re right. The virtual meetings and the virtual committee meetings held their place, but they’re harder to participate in. For a guy like myself, where I have a lot of demands on my time, when I come to an in-person meeting, and I’m sitting in a room with people, I’m in the meeting. I’m paying attention. I’m thinking deeply, which is hard to do on the dadgum Zoom calls in the same way. I really think that we’re picking up momentum that we lost as an industry.
Mike: I have to agree with that. The one thing, now that we have, I don’t want to say “mastered” the Zoom and the Teams calls, and we have our in-person meetings. I think now, the collaboration with technology is going to help us be even more efficient in our objectives and what we’re able to get done, now that we’re able to edit documents in real-time as a team. When we come meet in-person, we’ll have more to discuss that’s finished, ready, and polished.
Russel: Look, I’ve got Alfred Musgrove with me. Alfred is the current chair of the Gas Control Committee. He’s with PG&E. I wanted to ask you, what was talked about in the Gas Control Committee, one or two things that you thought were high priority and might be good for people to know about?
Alfred: Sure. Right now, the control room management audits with PHMSA are a hot topic. We’ve had a couple of operators go through them and share their experiences. One of the things that our past chair used to say was that, “When it comes to gas control, we all have the same problems and basically no one outside the room knows what we do.” That’s an interesting truth in some ways.
It’s about educating and sharing the experience with folks and learning from each other on what to expect. I’d also say alarm management is another big one, which you’re involved with, a lot of others. How we rationalize the system, make sure our alarms are safe.
Russel: Alarm management, obviously, I have passion about that. Alarm management is one of the things in the control room that’s extra challenging. A lot of things about control room management, you get all the way around it in the control room, but alarm management, you got to get all the way around the company to get all the way around the alarm management, right?
Alfred: Absolutely. The way we do our alarm reviews, you have between engineering and maintenance, gas control. It’s a collective in order to make sure it’s done right and everyone understands how they’re all supposed to respond.
Russel: Alfred, I want to say to you, I have learned a ton from you. You probably have no idea how much I’ve learned from you going to the Gas Control Committee. Some of the things you’ve shared about what PG&E is doing and how you guys are really striving to do the very best you can, and you got a large, substantial consequential operation.
I know this is your last year, and I’m sure you’ll continue to participate, but listen, I just want to say thank you and job well done.
Alfred: Thank you so much, Russel. I’ve learned a lot from you as well. Appreciate the opportunity to meet you here and speak, so thank you.
Russel: One last thing I want to ask you, for the folks that couldn’t come this year, what’s the thing that you would want to let them know about in the gas control world that they should be looking forward to or looking for?
Alfred: I would say any opportunity that allows you to engage with other operators, have discussions with them, because we all do things differently. It’s that experience allows us all to get better, so take advantage of that.
Russel: I could tell you from personal experience, Alfred means what he says. Listen, thanks for coming by.
Alfred: Thank you so much, Russel. Good to see you. Thank you.
Russel: Michael, thanks for coming by and sitting in with me on the first recorded Pipeliners Podcast from a conference.
Michael Falk: Thank you, Russel. I’m glad to be here, and I’m looking forward to exploring a few topics.
Russel: Tell me, what’s your background and what do you do?
Michael: My background started in the interstate gas transmission business way back about 40 years ago on the owner-operator side, interstate utilities, LNG, and a short year at PHMSA. Now, I work for Burns & McDonnell and I’m an operations engineer expert. I go out and talk to clients about what their issues are, then we’ll figure out the business part of it later.
Russel: I’m going to ask you the same question I’ve asked a lot of other guys. Were you here the last couple of days, and if so, what committee did you hang out in?
Michael: I have historically been on a number of committees at AGA. Right now, for Burns & McDonnell, I’m assigned to engineering, so I spent a fair portion of time there.
I was in the DIMP Committee because there were some things going on there that I wanted to hear. I also spent time in Supplemental Gas, because I was on that committee for several years.
Russel: You’re getting around. What do you think is probably the number one or two topics of interest in all of those conversations you had?
Russel: I have to ask this question, is hydrogen real? Is it coming?
Michael: Hydrogen is not coming, it’s here. It’s very real. The U.S. industry is starting to accept that it’s here. There are pilot projects going on all over the country. The Europeans are way ahead of us, but the U.S. will catch up.
Russel: How fast is that going to change? How fast are the boots on the ground going to start seeing hydrogen in their pipelines?
Michael: It’s going to go as fast as the zero carbon emissions initiative really takes hold and people start seeing the benefits of reducing the carbon emissions. When you burn hydrogen, there are no carbon emissions, and that’s important to a smaller group within the industry. That smaller group is growing very quickly.
Russel: This is one of those trains we’re going to have to get on. The train has left the station. There’s still some cars running by and they’re slow enough we can jump on, but if you don’t get on pretty quick, you’re probably going to miss the train.
Michael: Absolutely. The train has left the station in a number of states, California being one in particular. If you have existing gas infrastructure, the blending of hydrogen into that infrastructure reduces your carbon emissions and gets you carbon credits.
The government is pushing that agenda. I don’t know how long they’re going to continue to push that agenda, but that is a major driver.
Russel: I know that for years, we’ve been spending a lot of money to get the hydrogen out of the gas. I know that with some types of metals — this is certainly not my expertise, but the conversations I’ve had — some types of the metals, they’ve actually talked about hydrogen embrittlement. Is that going to be an issue, and what are the plans around that?
Michael: That is an issue, because there are a lot of steel pipes that are going to be susceptible to hydrogen embrittlement. Fortunately, I think the industry is going to focus at the start on distribution systems. While not all distribution systems have the HPE pipe in the ground, that is a plastic pipe that is not susceptible to hydrogen embrittlement, not susceptible to corrosion and galvanic problems. My suggestion is industry needs to start thinking about — on the distribution systems — replacing service mains and service lines with HPE.
Russel: For all of the plastic pipe manufacturers out there, you heard it here first. That’s awesome. Michael, thank you for coming by.
Michael: Thank you, Russel. I appreciate it.
Russel: Steve, welcome to the AGA Conference.
Steve Allen: Thank you. Like I just said a little bit ago, the last two days have been the best two months I’ve had in the last two years.
Russel: For anybody who’s been around this business, they know exactly what that means.
Steve: Look around you here how excited everybody is just to be out of the house.
Russel: Sorry, I’m not cutting that out and fixing it for the record. I’m having a little problem with this thing. Anyways. You’re right. While the attendance is down a bit, the people that are here are really, really interested in being here.
Steve: Absolutely. The committee work, I’m involved with one of the AGA committees, and it was phenomenal. We had some really good participation, and we hadn’t been together since Nashville. No, Reno.
Steve: Yeah. It’s nice. It’s nice, it’s surreal. Yeah, I think in Nashville, there was 2,800 people at the last operations conference. This one’s like 1,600 and some. That’s still a lot of people, 1,600.
Russel: Given the reality of what’s going on, those are great numbers. What committee did you actually spend your time hanging out in the last couple of days?
Steve: The Quality Management Committee. Actually, we talk a lot about PSMS, quality management techniques. There is one project that they’ve undertaken where they’re looking at various management systems, ISO-9000, 1177, 1173, 55001.
They’re lining all these systems up to see, mapping things back to 1173 to see, “Okay, what is the same?” You have an organization that has different departments that are in charge of different standards. Well, a lot of that stuff is redundant, because management systems has a lot of carryover. It’s a great product, a great study, and I think next year, they’re going to do a presentation on it.
Russel: I hung out in the gas control. I think next time, or next year, I’ll be hanging out in quality management with you, because that’s really where we’re headed with our software and stuff. What is the one or two things you saw that you think the people that couldn’t come ought to know about?
Steve: Wow. Honestly, I think it’s the excitement of seeing old friends. Truly, I realize that not everybody wants to travel right now, but as soon as you can, it’s going to be good for the soul for everybody. Now, I got to see you earlier this year, I think it was, down in Houston.
Russel: Right. We went to dinner. You were down for a conference, and we hooked up.
Steve: Yeah, and that was good for the soul, just to see somebody. Let alone seeing 1,600 other people. It’s nice, it’s nice.
Russel: I’m so with you. I’m with you. It’s been great to be here. Had a lot of great conversations. I’m with you. I think people are, this business is friendly, anyways. We’re very collaborative, but I think people are even leaning into it more than normal, because they’re just glad to be back out and seeing folks.
Steve: Yeah, absolutely. I would be remiss if I didn’t tell your audience or give the Pipeliners Podcast a great, big plug. Long time listener, fifth time I’ve interviewed with you. It’s a great podcast and a good resource for future. You can research all the different topics that you had, and they’re all very relevant still today. Good job. Keep it up. We appreciate it.
Russel: Thanks, Steve. I appreciate it. It’s good to see you, man.
Steve: All right. Be good. See you.
Russel: Anson, welcome to the Pipeliners Podcast.
Anson Wong: Well, thank you. Glad to be here.
Russel: Yeah, so tell me a little bit about who do you work for, what do you do?
Anson: I work for Southern California Gas company. I’m an engineer in the distribution integrity management program.
Russel: That’s awesome. I imagine you’re going to the Distribution Integrity Management Committee, right?
Anson: Yes, I am.
Russel: What are y’all talking about in there?
Anson: We talk about all the things that affect distribution. We’re talking about reg stations [regular stations]. We’re talking about cross bores. A lot of things related to DIMP.
Russel: What’s the hot topic this year? What’s top of mind for people?
Anson: Top of mind’s probably the upcoming ruling, probably, for distribution. You talk about station inspections, because of the incidents. Those are probably some of the hotter topics this year.
Russel: What’s the challenge with regulator stations related to integrity management?
Anson: I think it’s how to establish the risk and how to identify and mitigate the risks on stations.
Russel: We’re trying to keep this to a couple of minutes, and that’s not the kind of conversation you could typically do in a couple of minutes, because it gets quite complex quite quick, I suspect.
Anson: Oh, absolutely. I think we’ll both need a beer. I could keep going at this for hours and hours.
Russel: With that being said, I think we’re going to go get a beer. What do you think?
Anson: Works for me.
Russel: [laughs] Awesome. Thank you.
Russel: Christopher, you’ve been on the podcast a few times. I just ran into you, and you’re in a whole new role, so congratulations.
Christopher De Leon: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
Russel: Which committee you’ve been hanging out in?
Christopher: I spent the last two days in the pre-conference transmission integrity management technical committees.
Russel: I’m sure there were some interesting conversations in there. What was your big takeaway from that in the TIMP?
Christopher: Still a general topic around different pipeline operators running new technologies to their integrity management program, and how to address actions needed when you get a large data set that maybe you weren’t expecting. An example that would be you maybe thought you’d get 5 features reported and you get 100 features reported. How do you respond to that?
Do I do 100 digs, or is there a different route? That whole topic around what different operators are doing and what different options or help is out there to how to manage those situations when they come up with new data sets and data sets that surprise you, if that makes sense.
Russel: No, it makes absolute sense. Let me ask you this question, for the people that haven’t been able to come to the AGA and haven’t been able to hear the conversations, what would you want them to know about that conversation you just brought up?
Christopher: That’s a great question. I’ll take a practical example.
Let’s say you know because of 192.917, which is around what threats you’re susceptible to, I have ERW pipe or welded pipe like EFW, and you’re going to deploy a new ILI system that you’ve never done before, let’s say circumferentially-oriented MFLC. And, you get a report and it says you have 100 features in your long seam, and you’re not sure how to respond to it. One thing we would suggest is don’t necessarily say if I have metal loss interacting with the seam that is an immediate. I would say there are options you could take, and there’s people that can help you interpret the data and how you should respond. There’s a lot of different ways that you can approach those. Like I said on our podcast, episode 196, ask for help. Let’s have a conversation and go from there.
Russel: I think that’s great advice. We’ll look, thanks for coming by, and great to see you, man.
Christopher: It was a pleasure to see you.
Russel: Good luck in your new role.
Christopher: Thanks a lot. I appreciate it, Russel.
Russel: Philip, tell us a little bit about you. Who are you with, and what do you do?
Philip: I work for TRC. We’re an engineering consulting company. We work across the entire utility business and we’re based in Columbus, Ohio.
Russel: Which of the committees have you been hanging out in the last couple of days?
Philip: I sat in on an engineering committee, the team committee, and a little bit on the environmental committee as well.
Russel: What were the hot topics?
Philip: I think that everyone is excited to be together and be in-person.
Russel: That’s for absolute sure. We’re all grinning when we see each other.
Philip: Looking at how the industry has changed, the focus on renewables and alternative energy is a big topic for everyone right now. All of us need to make sure that we take a really strong stance on the importance of natural gas because it’s clean, there’s a lot of it.
There’s an abundance of that resource. We all need to make sure that we don’t just talk about the typical renewable advertisements on solar, wind, and everything else, but natural gas is part of that calculation, too.
Russel: I’m going to try and tell you what I think I hear you saying which is, we need to really focus on our core business. In the midst of all the things that are happening that are new, we still got to focus on the core business.
Philip: That’s right.
Russel: Natural gas is not going away.
Philip: Nope, it’s going to be here. I think it’s going to become even more efficient over time just as all technology changes.
Russel: I would absolutely agree with you. I have a question for you, I heard you have an opinion about what AGA needs to be focused on going forward. Do you want to share that?
Philip: Probably to my point is I think that we all need to be really focused on the importance of natural gas, that’s not going away. AGA is our advocate to tell everyone about that.
Russel: Listen, thanks for coming by. I appreciate it. Cheers.
Russel: Good to see you.
Russel: Christina, look, thank you very much. I know you’ve been running around like crazy. Thank you very much for taking a couple of moments to talk to us.
Christina Sames: Pleasure.
Russel: I really appreciate it. Tell me, how’s it been seeing this conference come together?
Christina: The conference has exceeded my expectations. When COVID hit and everything was surging, we had to question whether we were going to do this and how we were going to do this and how we were going to get natural gas companies to an event when their offices were closed.
We thought hard. We contacted gas companies. We heard directly from them that as long as we put safety protocols in place they would feel more comfortable attending. I originally was hoping for 1,500 individuals here. We had over 1,800 as of yesterday. I was hoping for maybe 150 exhibitors, and we have 202.
Then, I was hoping that around my operations managing committee at the operation executives, we’d have maybe 25, and I had about 40. Those executives are still here. I’m still seeing them in the exhibition hall, where normally, they would have left right after the meeting.
There’s a definite desire to see the technology, to re-engage. We know that not every company could travel for a variety of reasons, but I’m very thankful that we have what we have. It’s exceeded my expectations.
Russel: I would say it’s exceeded mine as well. I want to give AGA a shout-out because you guys have done…I know there had to be a huge level of anxiety about getting to this point, but you guys have pulled this off. It’s been a great conference. A little smaller, but the energy is probably higher than I have ever experienced.
People just seem to have a real hunger to re-engage not just with each other but with the business and get about the business of moving things forward. Kudos to AGA.
Christina: Thank you very much. There’s a lot of time and effort that went into this event. A lot of phone calls, a lot of last-minute changes, but as you said, the energy is unbelievable. The amount of smiles this week, everyone I’m seeing is smiling.
I’ve been to every exhibitor to say thank you. Normally, when I’m saying thank you, I have a couple that grumble a little bit. I’m not having that this time. Everyone’s just so happy to be here.
Russel: I’m right there in that group for sure. I’m a little emotional about it because I have a passion for this industry. I have a passion for the people, and I know that just a few weeks ago, we had a conversation about, “Are we going to go?”
I told our people, “No, we’re committed. We’re all in. We’re going regardless.” In coming, I had questions and concerns, as I’m sure many people did, but the safety protocols you put in place and how you’ve managed them.
You guys need to talk to the government, and all these other people are having problems because you’ve done a good job of giving everybody an opportunity to be safe. It feels safe and yet you’re allowing people operate with some liberty around their own personal choices. Again, kudos.
Christina: Thank you very much. Those safety protocols took a lot of time to consider what was right and how can we make people feel safe? The masks are a pain, we know, but I feel very comfortable sitting next to you with a mask on and speaking to you. That’s what we wanted everyone to experience. We wanted them to sit next to each other and have the sidebar conversations. We got that.
Russel: I would say, for the most part, I’m comfortable without the mask, but knowing that you’re not, I’m absolutely comfortable putting it on. Again, we’re here to work together. We got to respect and honor one another.
I do want to ask you one other question. For the people who weren’t able to come, what would you like to be telling them about this event and what they should be looking forward for AGA going forward?
Christina: We missed you being here. We missed you in the conversations. We can’t wait to re-engage. We actually did something very different this year. We are recording portions of our conference because we know there’s a desire to still see and hear how the industry is advancing.
We’ve had a videographer down here, checking out different technologies that we’ll be able to share. We’ve captured some of the conference, not all, that we will be able to share. Hopefully, it gives you an idea of what you missed but still able to experience, at least some of the passion.
Russel: I’ve done so many interviews like this, of various people, and I’ve been asking them what’d you hear in the committee meetings? What would you like people to know? I do think it’s important to continue to share. Again, kudos to AGA. Thank you for following it through and doing this. I am so blessed to be here. I’m a bit emotional about it. Thank you very much.
Christina: You’re quite welcome. Thank you for being here. Like every other person, I am so appreciative that we have this quality of attendance.
Russel: I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode of the Pipeliners Podcast. In our conversations with Mike, Alfred, Michael, Steve, Anson, Chris, Phillip, and Christina. Quite a list. Just a reminder before you go, you should register to win our customized Pipeliners Podcast YETI tumbler. Simply visit pipelinerspodcast.com/win to enter yourself in the drawing.
Russel: If you have ideas, questions, or topics you’d be interested in, please let me know on the Contact Us page at pipelinerspodcast.com or reach out to me on LinkedIn. Thanks for listening. I’ll talk to you next week.
Transcription by CastingWords