INGAA Foundation Chair Paul Amato doesn’t exactly come from the hotbed of the
natural gas industry, but in a manner of speaking, he became part of it as soon
as possible. The native New Englander became a pipeline inspector shortly after
then his multidecade career has encompassed years at Algonquin Gas and most
recently at Iroquois Pipeline Operating Company, where he is vice president,
Engineering, Operations & EH&S. This has resulted in the kind of
experience that makes him ideal to lead INGAA initiatives during his term.
this interview with P&GJ, Amato discusses, among other issues, his first
impressions of INGAA, training and retaining younger talent, and keeping an eye
on methane reduction and other
P&GJ: Where are you from,
and how did you decide on a career in the oil and gas industry?
Amato: I’m from West Hartford, Connecticut,
not the hub of the natural gas industry by any means. While taking some time
off from college to bartend I met my now wife, and we got engaged in a few
months. Needless to say, my future mother-in-law was not going to have an
unemployed family member when I graduated so she “encouraged” me to take the
civil servant exam.
She knew of an opening
for an engineer at the CT Public Utility Commission. After five years as a pipeline inspector, I
moved to Algonquin Gas as a field engineer and learned an incredible amount
from the technicians and other engineers / managers. Several years later, I joined
Iroquois to lead their engineering group and in the blink of an eye, 36 years
in the industry have passed.
P&GJ: What led to your
involvement in the INGAA Foundation?
was previously involved with the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America
on the Pipeline Safety committee. Around
2008 a colleague brought me to a Foundation meeting to get more engaged with
the full value chain in the industry. The
value of the Foundation and opportunities membership presents became
immediately apparent, and I have tried to become more engaged over time
including with the Foundation Executive Committee starting in 2016.
P&GJ: How has your participation in INGAA
Foundation contribute toward your career success?
with the Foundation allowed me to work with a broad spectrum of people,
companies and ideas from across the industry.
It also provided opportunities to get engaged in areas of the industry I
don’t encounter in my day-to-day, and to develop leaderships skills.
P&GJ: What do you view as
the most important items on the current INGAA Foundation agenda? Are there
like to make sure the membership is getting value from the Foundation. I’m very
passionate about our industry and its ability to be strategic. We need to
continue educating stakeholders on how we are an integral part of a safe, clean
energy future. I think it is also important to focus on the health and safety
of the industry and to engage smart, driven young professionals to ensure the
longevity of our industry.
We have several new programs, including a partnership with Young
Pipeline Professionals (we have recently added the YPP Chair to our Executive
Committee), as well as a multi-year mental health awareness program started
under my predecessor, Marty Jorgenson.
P&GJ: How does the
Foundation identify and deliver its annual slate of programs?
Foundation has a well refined process to identify ideas and transform them into
value added research that improved the full value chain of the industry. We solicit ideas from members based on the
Foundation’s strategic goals. These
ideas are then vetted through standing committees, and once refined, are
presented to the full membership for ranking and subsequent approval.
P&GJ: When you talk to
members, what do they express as their greatest concerns?
Amato: Permitting certainty, for both
new and existing projects, the health of our employees, and the ability to
attract and retain new, young talent. Through our slate of projects, we work
with regulatory bodies and federal agencies to educate them in the importance
of a permitting process that aligns with our nation’s long-term needs for
energy reliability, affordability and climate security.
we have several initiatives looking to ensure the long-term comprehensive
health of our employees and to attract young talent.
P&GJ: Is there any new or
pending legislation concerning regulations and permitting that are of
Amato: This year we will be watching
the methane rule supplemental, NOx Federal Implementation Plan and Inflation
Reduction Act’s implementation of the methane emissions reduction program.
We will also be
keeping a close eye on permitting reform. Already some of the proposals
introduced last year have been reintroduced, and we expect to see continued
momentum that hopefully results in bold, legislation that will expedite
permitting timelines and judicial reviews for badly needed energy infrastructure
P&GJ: What are the
Foundation and the industry as a whole doing to attract younger people to
upon existing partnerships with organizations such as the Young Pipeline
Professionals and engaging them more in committee and leadership roles. The Foundation has also been educating its
members on the differences with a younger workforce and helping bridge the gap
so that more experienced members, like myself, understand different ways to
encourage and recruit young people to a great industry that provides safe, low-cost
reliable energy to the nation.
P&GJ: How have you seen
the relationship between service companies and operators change in recent
is more of a partnership and a greater understanding between service companies
and operators than there was when I got started in this industry. The work the Foundation committees do is a
great example of competitors, operators and service providers working with the
same goal: to continue to provide safe, reliable, cost-effective energy to
assist in the transition to a low-carbon future.
P&GJ: What do you expect
over the next two or three years, regarding new pipeline construction and
expansions of existing lines?
optimistic that lawmakers, regulators and other stakeholders will recognize how
critical this industry is to the transition to a cleaner energy future and will
pass meaningful and impactful permitting reform that enables that pipeline
Natural gas, and its related infrastructure, are critical to a reliable,
secure and affordable clean energy future, and members of the INGAA Foundation
work tirelessly to lower our carbon footprint while delivering safe, reliable
P&GJ: Can you pick one
thing you would most like to see accomplished during your time as chairman?
Amato: It's challenging
to focus on one accomplishment with such a diverse membership. I will be
working hard with Foundation staff and membership to ensure the Foundation is
strategic, engages the younger generation, and provides tools to ensure we have
a healthy workforce that is able to safely deliver clean, reliable, low-cost