As a leading energy logistics firm, Buckeye Partners, L.P. focuses on improving the integrity of its infrastructure and expanding it to take on new marketing projects. “Buckeye is a different brand of company and I was attracted to them because of the entrepreneur-type of approach it has to building projects,” Senior Director of Engineering Services Craig Brown says.
The Houston-based company provides mid-stream energy logistics services. Buckeye owns and operates one of the nation’s largest independent petroleum products common carrier pipeline networks, providing refiners, wholesalers, marketers, airlines, railroads and other commercial end-users with dependable, all-weather transportation of refined petroleum products. The company transports refined products by pipeline mostly in the Northeast and upper Midwest.
Buckeye owns and operates about 6,000 miles of underground pipelines, in conjunction with more than 120 terminals, including marine and truckloading facilities.
The pipelines transport refined petroleum products from major supply sources to distribution terminals located in major end-use markets. “Our pipelines provide a vital transportation link between major petroleum refining and supply locations and consumption centers,” the company says. “Buckeye’s operations deliver consistent results because pipeline volumes are driven primarily by demand in the markets served, the partnership’s pipelines and terminals are geographically diversified of supply and the pipelines deliver petroleum products to numerous delivery locations.”
Taking the Lead
As a company that self-performs the engineering, procurement and construction management process, Buckeye’s project managers act as general contractors and take the lead on procurement, bidding, and overseeing engineering and construction. “Project managers handle everything from cradle to grave,” Brown explains. “From small to large projects, they handle everything from the initial feasibility to final execution, and are accountable and responsible for every aspect of the project.”
One of the benefits of working at a company such as Buckeye is that project managers are given significant latitude as decision makers for the projects they oversee, Brown explains. “We are able to attract really good managers because they like the fact that they are given responsibility and held accountable,” he adds.
Because it relies so heavily on its project managers, Buckeye performs a thorough interview process to ensure it has the right people in those positions.
“Our project managers fully believe that problems are nothing more than opportunities for solutions,” says Joe Sauger, senior vice president, engineering and compliance. “This philosophy allows us to execute extremely challenging projects across all of our business units.”
Project managers must be able to handle tasks such as selecting vendors, working with the supply chain to ensure materials are delivered on time and executing projects correctly, for example. “We ask them to be very adaptable, flexible and handle different types of projects,” Brown says. “It’s not uncommon for a project manager to build a pipeline, do a pump station next, followed by a vapor recovery unit. We don’t just do one type of project.”
The company has put a major emphasis on training its project managers and developed a three-day project simulation class for experienced and junior project managers. “We simulate a project from the beginning to the end that touches on every process, template, tool and requirement that a project manager needs to know about building a project the Buckeye way,” Brown explains. “We train so they are aware of and understand each step, so when they walk out they have everything they need to accomplish the project and know who to reach out to for help to complete a step or process.”
Speed to Market
One of the most critical pieces of Buckeye’s success is its speed to market. Buckeye reduces project costs by managing procurement, contracts and third-party engineering firms itself. The company has a competitive number of potential engineering firms that it works with to maintain long-term relationships while also making sure it pays a fair price.
By building its infrastructure, Buckeye has grown significantly in the past eight years. Maintaining speed to market as the company grows has become more important, Brown notes. “We can’t afford to not have certain policies and process in place to standardize the way we build things,” he adds. “We don’t want to bind project managers down with a lot of bureaucracy, rather we strive to implement new processes and standard practices to complete projects safely while meeting aggressive timelines.”