companies provide direct employment for a workforce with
engineering, technological, management, trade (often needing Interprovincial
Red Seal), and
administrative skills. Other kinds of workers
are employed by contractors, especially construction.
The plants operate year
round, 24 hours a day, 7
days a week, so many of the jobs consist of shift work. Buses transport
workers from Fort McMurray to oil sands surface mines
and plant sites, but employees may also work off-site.
For general information
on getting a job with an oil sands company, read the Employment in the Oil Sands and In-situ Oil Sands Jobs.
For information on current oil sands sites that are in production or under construction, read the Oil Sands Project Report.
do not start as labourers and work their way up in oil
sands companies. Skills are acquired
by completing certificate,
diploma or degree programs. For Labourer
jobs, look at the February
2008 Labour Market News, or the document The
Life of an Oilsands Construction Project.
engineers and process operators
at oil sands plants. For information on Process operators, view the October
2008 Labour Market News.
employers in oil and gas, visit our Employer
Websites section and search for
the occupation you are looking for.
Open Pit / Surface
Companies that operate open-pit mines employ between 800 to
4,000 workers. Heavy equipment operators are required at mining
Experience is required and in some cases, courses such as Keyano
College’s Haul Truck Operators Program is highly recommended.
In-situ (e.g. SAGD)
In-situ plants currently employ between 30 to 65 workers. Heavy
equipment operators are seldom required at SAGD oil sands plants.
Companies contracted to drill the SAGD well pairs are generally
based elsewhere in Alberta. Although well pairs for SAGD
can be drilled
throughout the year, most core drilling is conducted during
the winter between freeze up and spring thaw. There are more in-situ operations in development than surface mines.
Gas is produced from shallow wells in this area; however,
more are located in northwestern Alberta. Fewer wells operate
as the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board ordered gas production
wells shut-in on leases adjacent to deep oilsands deposits.
The resulting low pressure created by the removal of natural
is thought to hinder oil production at SAGD projects.
Conventional oil is defined as "petroleum found in liquid
form, flowing naturally or capable of being pumped without further
processing or dilution" by Canadian
Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). While drilling companies are contracted to
drill core samples to assess oilsands deposits and to drill wells
for SAGD oilsands projects, there is not much work here. Look
to northwestern Alberta.
For a list
of drilling companies that operate in the area visit (NOC
Unique to Primary Industry and look under Drilling Rigs.
Also, visit the Alberta
Learning Information Service for
more information on specific jobs, wages and education
needed. Another good resource for wages is the Canadian
Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors.