Oil Pipeline Operator  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotOil pipeline operators can be gaugers or control panel operators. Gaugers gauge and test oil in storage tanks. They regulate the flow of oil into pipelines according to established regulations and standards.

Control panel operators analyze specifications and control the operation of petroleum refineries. It is their job to regulate temperature, pressure, rate of flow and tank level.

dotOperators watch for pressure or leaks. They are responsible for preventing serious incidents, such as explosions. They also try to avoid environmental hazards.

dotIn some jobs, operators working indoors can be required to wear sturdy clothing and protective gear, such as safety glasses, heavy gloves and hard hats. Operators working outdoors will need to dress for the weather.

Still other operators work in office environments and wear street clothes.

dotLawanda Craft is a technician for a pipeline. She says some facilities are so busy that they require an A Operator and a B Operator.

A Operator stays inside and works the equipment. B Operator goes outside and does the legwork -- climbing tanks, for instance.

dot"It is very much a team effort," says Brad Ashcroft. He is an operator. "There can be 16 people in the unit, and you communicate and make team decisions."

You also are required to communicate with people in the field -- such as mechanics, engineers and others.

dot"A person with a disability could do an operator's job," says Ashcroft. "It is all done with computers. You would need the use of your hands."

dotOil pipeline operators in some jobs must be able to lift between 25 and 55 pounds. In other jobs, the work is non-physical and is done using computers.

dotOperators usually work 12-hour shifts, from 7 to 7, according to Ashcroft. You might work three days and two nights, then have a few days off.

"You work shift work. You must be able to adjust to sleeping in the daytime and working at night," says Craft. "You also work on holidays, since the stations must be manned 24 hours a day, every day."

At a Glance

Get oil from one place to another

  • These operators are responsible for preventing explosions and avoiding environmental hazards
  • They communicate with mechanics, engineers and others
  • Training in mechanics, electronics or engineering technology is good