Energy Careers

Working in Oil and Natural Gas

Explore a Rewarding Future in Oil and Gas

Global demand for oil and natural gas is projected to continue growing to meet the need for vehicle and aviation fuels, petrochemicals, and fuel to replace coal for reliable and affordable power generation. Canada’s oil and natural gas industry is evolving to meet global energy demand in a sustainable manner. The industry is developing and adopting new technologies to lower costs, increase efficiency and productivity and reduce its environmental footprint.

This means oil and natural gas workers will need to acquire new skills to transition their career into new roles, other sectors or even different industries. Working in oil and natural gas is more diverse than you may think, with a range of roles in fields of work such as administration, labour, trades, engineering and more. There’s potential for every skill set.

The Career Change Pathway

Ease of Transition

A career change into oil and gas may vary depending on your experience and skill set, however, there are hundreds of career options available. There is already a shortage of skilled workers and many sub-sectors are looking for the best and brightest talent.

Doing the Research

Before making a career change to a different sector, you should explore and assess your individual skills and experience, evaluate what technical skills may be needed to transition, consider consulting with a career advisor and identify how the sector may be different. Characteristics to consider in oil and gas include:

Skills and Experience
  • Physically fit and willing to learn on the job
  • Skilled in project management
  • Experienced in quality control and systems optimization
  • Skilled with equipment installation, use, monitoring, troubleshooting and repair
Benefits
  • Opportunities available for all skill levels
  • Potential for career advancement through on-the-job experience
  • High-paying jobs with good benefits
Work Environment
  • Safety-sensitive environments
  • Shift and varied work hours for some roles
  • Travel and remote work often required
  • Physical, outdoor work or office-based work depending on roles

The Future of Employment in Oil and Natural Gas

Exploration and Production

As oil and natural gas companies evolve with a changing energy landscape, you can leverage your existing expertise and skills while learning new skills. This builds strong careers and a more dynamic industry.

Oil and natural gas companies continue to become more efficient, which means it’s unlikely Canada’s industry will be as large as it was in 2013. However, retiring workers, an increase in opportunities with service providers and increased industry activity are creating a need for skilled workers.

Oil and Natural Gas Services

The services sub-sector will continue to have one of the largest workforces within Canada’s oil and natural gas industry, including:

  • Expanding traditional services to include data acquisition and integration, and implementation of cleantech solutions.
  • Supporting emerging technologies and energy sources such as geothermal energy; carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS); hydrogen and lithium production; and methane emissions reduction.
  • Continuing closure and reclamation activities.

Petrochemicals, Refining and LNG

An expanding petrochemicals and refining sector requires skilled workers to support the increasing level of activity. Construction, operations, maintenance and support roles are all needed as potential projects secure investment and come to fruition.

Demand for natural gas exploration and production is expected to increase as companies provide feedstock for refineries, petrochemical plants and LNG facilities.

Canada’s emerging LNG sector will also provide new opportunities. Watch for positive final investment decision (FIDs) announcements that signal an LNG project has been approved for start of construction.

Hiring for operations jobs typically ramps up 12-18 months in advance of operations to ensure that workers are trained and available to assist with commissioning and start-up activities.

Direct LNG operations employment varies depending on the size of the plant – 100 workers for a smaller plant and 800 workers for a larger one (an average of 200-350 direct roles per plant).

Pipelines

Recent activity in the pipeline sub-sector has seen employment climb in recent months.  The sub-sector has something for everyone – you could work in the field laying pipe, inspecting pipeline seals or talking to community members about a proposed pipeline route. Or you could work in an office managing pipeline systems or in a lab developing new pipeline technologies.

Oil and Natural Gas Life Cycle

When a project begins, it creates a number of jobs depending on its life cycle phase. Here’s a look at how many oil and natural gas drilling projects unfold.

1

Exploration

  • Site surveys (geologic, seismic)
  • Exploration drilling
  • Estimate reserve and potential production
2

Appraisal

  • Appraisal drilling
  • Assess economic viability
  • Environmental impact assessment
3

Development

  • Well drilling
  • Construction of facilities, roads, pipelines and terminals
  • Prepare decommissioning plan and estimate site remediation costs
4

Production

  • Production management
  • Transport oil and gas to processing facility
  • Maintenance
5

Closure

  • Well decommissioning
  • Site remediation and reclamation
  • Removal of facilities and equipment
  • Site monitoring

Looking to Start a Career in the Oil and Natural Gas Sector?

Are you:

  • Eager to learn new things
  • Comfortable with technology
  • Highly adaptable
  • Able to negotiate successfully
  • Highly skilled at reading, numeracy, communicating and problem-solving
  • Able to plan and execute projects of all sizes
  • Aware of the regulatory and compliance implications of new and planned operations
  • Able to recognize and understand cost implications
  • Willing to work in remote areas in variable and extreme weather conditions

 

Learn more about career opportunities in oil and natural gas.

Day in the Life

Alexandra Professional Engineer, LNG Canada

Alexandra joined LNG Canada in 2016, right after completing her master’s studies and was immediately immersed in their first phase of construction of their plant expansion project. The project’s scope at the time included building and operating a terminal where natural gas is liquefied), stored and loaded for offshore markets, mainly in southeast Asia, India and China.

Want to know more about working in oil and natural gas? Check out Alexandra’s story.

Read Alexandra's Story

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