June 2019 Vol.74 No. 6


Convention Review: APCA Holds Successful Key Largo Convention

Michael Ancell


Basking in beautiful weather and world-class hospitality, nearly 300 American Pipeline Contractors Association members, family and friends convened at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Fla., for the 2019 APCA Convention. Attendees took advantage of topical education sessions, a variety of networking opportunities, fascinating tours and the 2nd Annual Associates Exhibit & Breakfast. They also honored outgoing APCA President William Schettine of Meridien Energy and enjoyed a lively keynote speech from football legend and American hero Rocky Bleier.

Alan Mayberry, associate administrator for Pipeline Safety at the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, provided a pipeline safety update.

One of the convention’s best-attended sessions was a Pipeline Safety Update with Alan Mayberry, associate administrator for Pipeline Safety at the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). He said that he is proud to work in this industry, adding that the U.S. has the safest pipeline system in the world and two-thirds of the energy consumed in the U.S. is moved by pipeline.

Mayberry explained PHMSA’s creation and its role in establishing minimum safety regulations, providing oversight, educating the public and encouraging research. PHMSA is fully embracing Pipeline Safety Management Systems (PSMS), and while there are currently no plans to incorporate PSMS into regulations, Mayberry hopes that contractors will “jump on the SMS bandwagon.”

“PSMS is the key to closing the safety gaps that cause infrequent, yet catastrophic, accidents, and contractors should address those gaps by conducting gap analysis, designing plans to address gaps based on risk, and conducting safety culture baseline assessments.”

During the Government & Industry Relations Roundtable, members heard from APCA’s government relations representative Eben Wyman, with Wyman Associates; Muster president Alex Schettine; and Interstate National Gas Association of America (INGAA) Foundation Executive Director Tony Straquadine Jr. Wyman discussed pipeline safety reauthorization, Clean Water Act Section 401 updates, DOT hours-of-service regulations, tariffs, Pipeline Safety Management Systems, and the DOT Gas Transmission and Gathering Rule.

Schettine discussed Muster, APCA’s online advocacy provider, and the success it has had expanding the association’s advocacy network and supporting the Mountain Valley Pipeline in West Virginia. Schettine asked for members’ help in identifying upcoming projects with permits in the balance, where APCA advocates and Muster can be deployed.

“The groups protesting pipelines have been engaged in this type of online advocacy for 15–20 years, but the energy industry is catching up rapidly,” Schettine said.

APCA outgoing President William Schettine.

Straquadine explained the relationship between INGAA and the INGAA Foundation, with the former comprised of natural gas pipeline operating companies and the latter comprised of those same companies, as well as companies that provide goods and services to pipelines worldwide. The foundation spent some $800,000 on studies last year, including a flagship study, The Role of Natural Gas in Tomorrow’s Low-Carbon Economy. (See Newsline item, page 8.)

Another study of North American Midstream Infrastructure shows significant continued development through 2035 and that new infrastructure development in the U.S. and Canada will employ an average of 725,000 people each year.

Greg Guidry, of Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart, presented a session on recent developments in labor and employment law for the contractor members. He discussed developments from Congress, the Executive Branch, the courts, and various states and localities. He also sent attendees home with a flash drive full of valuable and topical information, imploring them, “Share this information with all your supervisors.”

Another important opportunity for learning at the convention was the 2nd Annual APCA Associates Exhibit & Breakfast. Contractor members flocked to the exhibit to learn about the latest machines, materials and services. Associate members who exhibited appreciated the opportunity to promote their companies and were especially pleased by the big turnout.

At the opening session, keynoter Rocky Bleier shared his amazing life story, from his hometown of Appleton, Wisc., to Notre Dame where he was an undersized running back, through the rice paddies of Vietnam where he was wounded by an enemy grenade, and back to the gridiron where he became a long-shot starter on four Pittsburgh Steeler Super Bowl-winning teams. Bleier urged his audience to make a commitment to excellence and to making an impact. “The one who usually wins,” he said, “is the one who thinks he can.”

APCA members enjoyed the Ocean Reef facility and the convention’s social events. The Welcome Party was held by the resort’s marina, and the associate members sponsored a Pool/Beach Barbecue, where folks enjoyed Keys weather, food and games.

Beautiful weather in the Florida Keys contributed to a great convention.

The Spouse Breakfast included a course on flower arranging, and attendees created centerpieces for that night’s final party. In addition to the APCA Golf Tournament, other activities included a group snorkeling trip, a private eco-kayak tour and a powerboat poker run.

At the convention’s final party, members saluted outgoing President William Schettine for his years of service to the association. He shared the story of how he became involved in APCA and spoke eloquently of his love for the pipeline industry.

The APCA Mid-Year Meeting will be held Oct. 2–5, 2019, at the JW Marriott in Nashville, Tenn. The 2020 APCA Annual Convention is slated for March 27-April 1, at the Hyatt Baha Mar in Nassau, Bahamas.

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