Differing perspectives on how jobs are changing in the gas industry

Differing perspectives on how jobs are changing in the gas industry

The arrival of new gases, digitisation, social change… The energy sector has reinvented itself over the last ten years, and will continue to reinvent itself over the decades to come. Transformations that have become a daily experience for gas industry workers in the field. Christelle Rousset, Gas Movement Development Manager, and Lionel Legros, Specialist Maintenance Technician, share their experiences with us and tell us how they see the future shaping up in their work.

What are the main transformations you’ve seen since you came to Teréga? How have they changed your daily activities?

Christelle Rousset: The changeover to TRF (Trading Region France) in 2018, providing a single marketplace in France, is behind some significant changes in the way our grid is managed and how we use our storage. Actually, these days, shippers can change their capacity nominations – meaning the amount of gas they want to transport – within a single day. This has an impact on flows and means that frequent changes are needed to grid configurations. It can even mean reversing those flows within that same day. Teréga’s desire to be a major actor in the energy transition has also changed my work. In my job, the arrival of new gases and innovative digital tools have changed the way I work. The increasing number of biomethane stations, in particular, requires very specific monitoring, and keeps operations teams very busy, whether in the Gas Movements Service, the Technical Coordination department or in association with the territories and specialist operations. Finally, working groups involving other gas operators are also increasing in number. The ones in which I’m involved are to do with biomethane, and my organisation is also approached to carry out studies of the grid ready for the arrival of CO2 and hydrogen.

Lionel Legros: The new gases, such as biomethane, which is growing in importance on our grids, have made huge changes to daily life in the field of specialist operations. For example, odorisation and gas quality work are continually becoming more important. The biogas that is produced must in fact fulfil certain analytical criteria, such as the absence of water and oxygen, before it can be injected into our transport grid in the form of biomethane.

What part do safety, social and environmental challenges play in your job?

L.L: Safety has always been our absolute priority. These days, the rollout of digital tools has helped us prepare our work further ahead. Everything is planned beforehand, and the information is sent out to our partners in the field for ever greater safety. The environmental side of things is also becoming more important, with a lot of Research and Innovation (R&I)
projects in partnership with industry experts, the DPI and our subsidiary, Teréga Solutions. At the moment, for example, we’re testing new nitrogen seals on our systems to limit the amount of gas discharged into the atmosphere. We contribute our experience in the field to aspects of our industrial operations where further improvement is still possible.

C.R: Safety guides what we do every day. It’s our chief preoccupation. We carry out crisis
management exercises on a monthly basis so that we’re as ready as we possibly can be if an event occurs on the grid that needs to be managed. Besides which, management of environmental impacts is now central to the day-to-day management of the grid. For example, we’ve introduced a decision-making tool that allows us to optimise and increase the efficiency of how our compressor estate is used, the aim being to limit the release of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs).

Have you seen a change in the sort of people entering the gas industry?

L.L: The rise of industrial information technology has changed things: not only are we working remotely more, but we’ve also seen a change in the backgrounds and qualifications of young people joining the profession. For any work to do with automated systems, instruments or gas quality, I’m now seeing young engineers coming in, whereas five or ten years ago a BTS diploma was the norm.

C.R: Slowly and surely, more women are coming in. In the past, I’ve worked on industrial sites where the population was almost exclusively male. That is changing a little. Today there are a few more women in technical jobs. I’ve seen the same thing among my counterparts working for other gas operators. But some jobs, particularly involving work in operations or maintenance, are still proving hard to open up to women.

What would you like to say to young people, and particularly young women, wanting to get into the gas industry?

C.R: I’d really encourage young women who are attracted by the world of industry not to think twice. We fully deserve our part in it, and we often bring a different and valuable perspective. For my part, I’ve always felt comfortable in the business, in all the jobs I’ve done.

L.L: Generally speaking, I’d say our work gives us the chance to work with a lot of different things: rotating machines, like compressors, gas, electricity, industrial IT and so on. That’s what I particularly like about it. You need to be adaptable. No two days are ever the same, and there’s a lot of technological changes to keep an eye on. You don’t grow old with your system, and that motivates you!

What do you think your job will be like in 15 years?

L.L: Biomethane, hydrogen, CO2 … every avenue is being explored at the same time today, and tests are under way on a wealth of new technologies. Even though it’s hard to predict where we’ll be 15 years from now, one thing’s for certain: R&I will be tremendously important in the future.

C.R: I think the new gases will continue to grow, and our jobs will have to adapt to changes on the grid. Digital tools should also continue to develop. This desire to get digital technology working for us will be a great support in our future.