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Old 12-08-2012, 11:32 PM   #1
GP_Matt
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I have been getting a few PM's lately asking questions about jobs in the 'Patch' and thought a thread might help to answer some questions and dispell a few myths.

I live and work in Grande Prairie which is an oil town although not in the same way as Ft Mac. GP doesn't have the huge work camps and gigantic sites but rather a huge number of smaller sites.

I figure between myself and a few other posters we should be able to answer quite a few questions about the work and life.

The first question that I usually hear is, "Is it true that you can just show up and earn $100000 a year with no skills?"
I think it is pretty rare to walk into a job with no training or skill and earn that much, but there is a ton of room for advancement. Starting wage for laborers around here is $18-20/hour but there is usually a ton of overtime. Our employees usually get 60 hours a week so the overtime means 70 hours or $1400 a week. With surveying it is possible to climb above 100k in three years or so if you are smart and hard working but you do work for that money. 60 hours a week average means that sometimes you will need to work 21 12 hour days in a row possibly out of town in a hotel or camp.

There are a ton of jobs available for skilled and experienced workers and quite a few for green guys as well. If you want to find work with no training there are a few things that can put you ahead of the others and also set you up for a higher starting wage.

Have a clean drivers abstract. This doesn't have to be spotless but more than a few speeding tickets, one big speeding ticket or other serious tickets will place you at the bottom of the list or even bar you from employment at a lot of the companies. A DUI on your record will mean that most companies won't pay the rate increase that will come with hiring you.

Be able to pass a drug/alcohol test. A lot of companies have either pre-employment or site access drug and alcohol testing. If you can't pass you can't go to work. The jobs are almost all safety sensitive so a clean system is required.

Try to obtain your safety tickets before applying. Most employees require several tickets before they can start work and employers usually prefer an employee who can start right away. Some companies will pay for your tickets if they hire you but they will also pay you more if you already have them. They are also more likely to take a chance on an employee that can start right away rather than one who needs a week of safety courses before they can start learning how to do the job.
H2S Alive - this is a. Course that everyone in the field requires. It is a one day course put on almost daily through ENFORM.
PST - Petroleum Safety Training is a 4 hour computer based course. Watch the videos and answer the questions.
Wildlife Awareness - Another ENFORM course that is required for some industries. I think it takes an hour but haven't taken it myself. It replaces Bear Aware which was an 80's video that was entertaining.
TDG - Transportation of Dangerous Goods is required if you will be driving equipment (almost everything is dangerous)
First Aid - I don't know how many jobs require this but we do. We need the employees to take the Level C with CPR and the BC equivalent from ST Johns. It is a two day course and offered everywhere.
There are a few more courses that are job specific and it may be worth looking into them before applying.

Not all of the jobs are working on the rigs. Seismic and surveying go in first before anything is built. They use quads, sleds and helicopters to get around and are often in virgin areas. After that comes construction to build the leases and roads, then drilling, completions and facility work before the pipeline construction starts. After that there are still a ton of jobs for operations and maintainence and then environmental and clean-up work when the site is put back to bed.

That is everything that I can think of at the moment.
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Old 12-09-2012, 01:26 AM   #2
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The oil industry is huge and there are many types of jobs you can get. Pretty much all of them will require some sort of sacrifice by you to get in, unless you're educated in some unique way.

Even graduate engineers will be expected to go to the field to "learn". Really, it's more of a paying your dues kind of thing and ends up being one of the least valuable things you do from a technical point of view, but probably the most valuable thing you do in your career to learn things and most of all how to talk to the people.

In addition to the courses Matt mentions, lots of companies will send you for some sort of driver training. Unless you're going for a driving job, which brings me to my main contribution...

If you want to work for a pumping service company (Baker, Calfrac, Trican, Halliburton, Schlumberger, Sanjel, etc), get your class 1. Those companies are constantly dying for more drivers, especially drivers that are interested in becoming equipment operators. If you want an "in" to the industry, that's a great way to get started.
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:58 AM   #3
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I work for an owner company in the field on a SAGD oilsands project, if anyone has questions on that type of work environment feel free to ask them here.
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Old 12-09-2012, 07:32 PM   #4
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This is a shot in the dark, but are there opportunities for individuals trained in microbiology? My instincts say no, but I really don't have a clue. I know there is a lot if water and soil testing, but obviously that's more from an environmental chemistry perspective and less from a microbiological standpoint.
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Old 12-09-2012, 07:46 PM   #5
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I don't know about specific jobs, but I recall reading that oil sands companies are using microbiology to help clean up the tailing ponds.
You might look for companies who provide environmental work for Syncrude.
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:50 PM   #6
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I'm a (former) wellsite geologist... ask me anything!
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Old 12-09-2012, 11:35 PM   #7
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I don't know about specific jobs, but I recall reading that oil sands companies are using microbiology to help clean up the tailing ponds.
You might look for companies who provide environmental work for Syncrude.
That's a great point. That is an interesting area. This would be something I would consider pursuing once my current contract expires.
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:24 AM   #8
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I'm a (former) wellsite geologist... ask me anything!
U got a new gig?
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:16 AM   #9
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I'm a (former) wellsite geologist... ask me anything!
If a train leaves Chicago at 0637 carrying twelve cars filled with tuna with a drunk engineer.Another train leaves dallas with seven cars filled with cat litter at 745 pm which will arrive in calgary first?
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Old 12-10-2012, 11:25 AM   #10
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That's a great point. That is an interesting area. This would be something I would consider pursuing once my current contract expires.
Don't hold your breath, there are virtually no jobs available in oil & gas related microbiology. Have a friend who did CMMB & masters in oil & gas microbiology, and getting a job in that field is nearly impossible, since there are less than a handful of jobs and vacancies are so few/far between.
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