“Pipelining hasn’t changed much in Canada over the last 40 years so this is really industry leading work.”
- Marc LaBerge
Construction Lead brings pipelining innovation to Devon
Marc LaBerge is responsible for scheduling resources and managing the relationship between Devon and its contractors. These contractors manage, construct and inspect the equipment, pipelines, and gas and oil processing facilities the company builds across Alberta and British Columbia.
A typical day for Devon Construction Lead,
Marc LaBerge consists of managing two
constantly ringing phones, shifting construction
schedules, or wading knee-deep in mud and
muskeg. Ask him which one he prefers; mud
and muskeg always win.
Despite being based in Calgary, Marc has recently been spending plenty of time out of the office.
In late 2007, Marc acted on an idea for a new operating procedure called low-impact pipelining. He noticed the significant impact that traditional pipelining activities can have on the land and, concurrently, on farmers. Sunken ditch-lines, sometimes caused by pipelining, are often not visible to farmers until they hit the depressions with their equipment, sometimes causing equipment damages. In addition, the farmer must pass over these depressions hundreds of times during a growing season forcing adjustments to speed, spray, fertilizer, and seed rates, etc. This means lost time, money and efficiency. For Devon, it means high costs of repairs to land and equipment, and strained relationships with landowners.
“We started to see opportunities which encouraged change,” Marc said. “Things like finding ways to reduce the impact we had on the land, on crop yields, on our relationships with farmers and communities, and ultimately, on our bottom line.” LaBerge’s solution was to bring the innovative pipelining concept to Devon in partnership with the provincial environment department. Pilot projects for this new method have proven successful. Low-impact pipelining requires less topsoil disturbance, smaller right of ways, slimmer bucket design to dig narrow trenches, and reduced clean-up costs. Additionally, it reduces downtime for both industry and farmers — less crop damage, spring clean up and future repairs. As a result, it is also helping Devon build stronger relationships with stakeholders.
LaBerge is currently extending this partnership model to work with other government departments and stakeholders. Marc knew this new approach was the right thing to do and his dedication resulted in Devon changing their Standard Operating Practice on all agricultural land to use this innovative pipelining strategy.