Thank you for taking interest in the Labour Market Outlook 2021-2023 data. This data includes employment forecast by oil and gas sub-sector, occupation and province. To help us measure the use of this information, please indicate which stakeholder group you belong to.
The oil and natural gas industry of 2021 has changed compared to 12 months ago. The combined events of the past year — demand shock from the COVID-19 global pandemic and an oversupplied oil market — led Canadian companies across all oil and gas sub-sectors to take swift action to adjust their strategies. This had a significant impact on the industry and its workforce.
The following reviews the impact of those events and the associated forecast on employment and hiring through to 2023. Our analysis is of direct employment, those jobs in companies directly linked to finding, extracting and producing oil and natural gas, such as geologists and drillers) across the exploration and production (E&P), oil sands, oil and natural gas services and pipelines sub-sectors. To forecast employment, PetroLMI uses a modelling system developed in 2006 which is refined regularly through consultation with industry, labour market economists and workforce planning analysts.
For information on the spending and production forecast used, please see Figure 1, Total Industry Employment and Employment Driver Forecast in the Labour Market Outlook 2021 to 2023: Canada’s Oil and Gas Industry summary report.
Oil and Gas Employment
A modest recovery scenario is forecasted for Canada’s oil and gas industry through to 2023. While we’re projecting slight increases in capital spending in 2021, employment will not begin recovering until 2022.
The industry is projected to add 7,840 jobs by 2023 due to industry activity, which is an increase of 5%. By 2023, at 175,850 jobs, industry’s direct employment is projected to surpasses 2020 levels but falls short of its 2019 employment level of 188,760.
Companies are expected to focus their capital spending on profitability enhancements over production gains as a path to competitiveness through:
- Optimization and efficiency improvements to existing operations using digitization and technology
- Economies of scale/consolidation
- An even greater focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG)
Demand for natural gas is anticipated to recover before oil, as companies focus on higher value liquids-rich natural gas to provide feedstock for the petrochemical sector, liquid petroleum gas exports and liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Oil and natural gas well site reclamation and closure work will also drive spending and increased activity and is expected to contribute to a tighter market for labour in those associated occupations.
For more information on key areas impacting the industry’s hiring, see Labour Market Outlook Spotlights.
Net Hiring Requirements
Canada’s oil and gas industry is expected to experience net hiring requirements of 19,820 jobs over the three-year forecast period: 7,840 due to industry activity and 11,980 due to age-related attrition. Vacancies due to age-related attrition may not boost overall employment levels within the industry but some hiring activity may occur as companies backfill positions.
Company representatives indicate retirements are being monitored. Despite lower retirement rates in recent years, there is a risk of losing experienced workers. Some companies are implementing programs to transfer knowledge across their workforces. If there is hiring, not all retiring workers will be replaced by the same occupation. Companies may choose to fill a gap instead and hire someone with different skills.
Exploration + Production (E&P)
2021-2023 Net Hiring Requirements: 6,880
In 2021, replacement for age-related attrition will not offset job losses across the E&P sub-sector where consolidations will reduce roles such as those in shared services and head offices where the greatest synergies are typically achieved. In 2022 and 2023 however, industry activity is expected to increase, driving hiring for 6,160 jobs in addition to a potential 2,890 vacancies caused by retiring workers.
Over the forecast period 2,520 new positions are projected due to activity demand, and potentially 4,360 job vacancies due to age-related attrition for a net hiring requirement of 6,880 positions. Purchasing agents and officers; managers in natural resources production, drilling and well servicing; and oil and gas drilling and services supervisors round out the top in-demand jobs. The sub-sector also sees increased hiring into occupations impacted by the industry’s years of restructuring, particularly geoscience professionals, engineers and technologists. Growth in environmental, social and governance as well as IT-related roles is also expected.
Oil and Gas Services
2021-2023 Net Hiring Requirements: 12,990
In the oil and gas services sub-sector it is projected that both age-related attrition and increased industry activity will drive hiring, particularly for the second half of 2021. In 2022 and 2023 industry activity is anticipated to ramp up and a labour supply shortage is predicted as retirements impact the sub-sector.
As with recovery from previous economic downturns, oil and gas services employment is expected to experience the most growth over the forecast period — up 8,390 positions due to industry activity. The sub-sector will also see the highest hiring due to age-related attrition (4,605) for net hiring of 12,990 positions.
Growth in the sub-sector will be primarily driven by LNG development and oil and natural gas well site reclamation work. Companies focused on this type of work are already reporting tightness of the labour market for well servicing occupations. Field occupations will see the greatest growth due to increased industry activity, and high age-related attrition rates are expected for supervisory and management occupations and truck drivers. Hiring for environmental, social and governance-related roles is a new focus for this sub-sector in response to changing customer and societal expectations. As with other sub-sectors, occupations in Information Technology are expected to play a key role with increased digitization and automation.
2021- 2023 Net Hiring Requirements: -590
In 2021, replacement for age-related attrition is not expected to offset job losses across the oil sands sub-sector resulting from consolidations and restructuring. In 2022 and 2023 age-related attrition will drive some hiring, but is still not projected to fully offset the declines in industry activity, for a net job loss of 590.
Over the forecast period, spending in the oil sands is expected to be focused on driving productivity, improving efficiency and debottlenecking. While spending for mining operations is expected to recover to 2019 levels, spending in in situ and upgrading are not. Oil sands operations are long-life assets and, sustainability is dependent on leveraging technology and innovation to improve costs and environmental performance.
In mining, 1,050 jobs related to industry activity are projected to be lost by 2023 and up to 1,190 vacancies are expected due to age-related attrition, for a net hiring requirement of 140 roles. In situ industry activity is projected to decline, creating 1,640 job losses and the 630 vacancies expected from age-related attrition do not offset the losses, for a net hiring loss of 1,010 positions. Hiring due to upgrading activity is projected to remain flat, and 320 job vacancies are forecasted due to age-related attrition.
2021-2023 Net Hiring Requirements: 540
In 2021 replacement due to age-related attrition is not expected to offset job losses due to industry restructuring. In 2022 and 2023 the sub-sector stabilizes and hiring due to age-related attrition is expected.
Over the forecast period, job declines in the pipelines sub-sector (down 380 positions) are expected due to the implementation of cost management strategies, however, hiring from age-related attrition (920 positions) is projected to offset the decline, for net hiring requirements of 540 jobs.
Pipeline operators are projected to have the highest number of job vacancies, significantly outpacing other employment hiring. There will be demand for roles in Information Technology occupations and related to environmental, social and governance.
2021-2023 Net Hiring Requirements: 15,140
In 2021, job losses are expected as restructuring and consolidation continues however, in 2022 and 2023, employment stabilizes. Hiring in oil and gas services is forecasted, while oil sands employment decreases.
Over the forecast period, net hiring requirements in Alberta are projected to be 15,140, with hiring due to age-related attrition (9,480), outpacing demand from industry activity (5,660 jobs). There is a risk of labour shortages, particularly in northwest Alberta.
2021-2023 Net Hiring Requirements: 2,810
In 2021, British Columbia job growth will be driven by retiring workers as well as industry activity to deliver feedstock to LNG plants and reclaim oil and gas well sites. Companies are already reporting labour shortages for oil and gas services workers. In 2022 and 2023 activity and age-related attrition will continue to impact hiring needs.
Over the forecast period, British Columbia’s industry is projected to hire for 2,810 jobs with over half of the demand coming from industry activity (1,670). Hiring is anticipated for field and plant operations and maintenance roles, and oil and gas services occupations.
2021-2023 Net Hiring Requirements: 2,230
In 2021, employment stabilization is expected as oil and natural gas well site reclamation drives activity. In 2022 and 2023 activity demand is anticipated to drive hiring.
Over the forecast period, job growth in Saskatchewan is expected to be strong with the reinstatement of capital from oil and natural gas well site reclamation work spurring growth. Saskatchewan is projected to hire for 2,230 positions with most coming from industry activity (1,690), and 540 from age-related attrition.
Rest of Canada
2021-2023 Net Hiring Requirements: -360
In 2021, replacement for age-related attrition isn’t expected to offset industry activity employment declines. In 2022 and 2023, potential retirements are expected to counterbalance employment losses resulting from lower industry activity.
Greater uncertainty is anticipated within the rest of Canada and particularly Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore industry. By the end of 2023, vacancies due to age-related attrition are expected (820), however, project cancellations and delays are projected to create job losses of 1,180, for total job losses of 360.
Labour Market Outlook
Here you can take a more detailed look by sub-sectors, regions and occupations. Navigate the dashboard below to gather the specific insights that matter to you.
Exploration and production (E&P): Activity for the conventional and unconventional oil and gas reserves, excluding oil sands.
Oil sands: The extraction and upgrading of bitumen.
Oil and gas services: Contracted exploration, extraction and production services to the oil sands and non-oil sands E&P sub-sectors.
Pipelines: Responsible for mainline transmission for transporting daily crude oil and natural gas production.
|Net hiring requirements
A = Actual
E = Estimated
F = Forecast
Notes & Sources
The labour demand projections, which include activity demand, replacement demand and net hiring requirements, have been produced using our modelling system for the upstream and midstream oil and gas industry. The system projects labour demand by sector and by industry total for 67 occupations which are mapped to the National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2016. An “other occupations” category is used to capture any residual occupations and ensure total petroleum industry workforce is accounted for.
Employment is projected from baseline employment numbers derived from Statistics Canada and/or direct industry surveys, and then uses employment drivers to identify the required workforce levels to support the level of industry activity (i.e., spending and/or production) in a given year. The model does this by sub-sector and occupations with some adjustments for labour productivity and other factors.
Totals may not add up due to rounding.
Industry sectors such as the downstream sector, construction, manufacturing, LNG construction and operations, truck transportation as well as professional services are considered out of scope for this outlook.