Alberta’s oil and gas companies are ramping up hiring

 tar sands

Go North young man?

The US may be struggling through a low-employment summer, as last week’s weak Job Report indicates. But north of the border the job situation is rosy, at least in the oil sector.

Despite continued economic uncertainty in Europe, the US, and China, and the depressed price of natural gas, Alberta’s energy sector is booming.

According to a report released last week by the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada, 91% of the 37 oil and gas companies it surveyed are hiring, 7% up from a similar report in the last half of 2011.

The expansion of oil sands development and the shift to shale and other unconventional oil and gas plays (which Canada has in abundance) means that the industry is hungry for new employees to keep up with demand.

But here’s the rub. It is not general labor that is the primary need of Ensign Energy Services, Encana, Royal Dutch Shell and other companies which are cashing in on the boom times, it is oil workers with the technical skills and experience to safely operate heavy and increasingly sophisticated oil field equipment.

However, the cyclical nature of the work (often two to three months contracts) makes it hard to attract and retain skilled workers in the remote drilling sites found across the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin.

Consequently, recruitment agencies are looking to foreign workers to fill the void. According to the survey, 27% of responding companies reported hiring more international workers than in 2011. Some companies such as Ensign are also looking to engage its field workers long term, providing training to those who work for a couple of months on the drilling sites so that they can transition to different parts of a project once their initial job is completed.
 
Got oil field skills? Go North young man (and woman).

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Photo by Howl Arts Collective, used under a Creative Commons license.
Stuart Hampton

British editorial veteran Stuart Hampton has been covering oil and gas companies for Hoover's since the Neogene-Quaternary period. Well, actually, since the early 1990s. For the best overview of the oil industry and its history he recommends Daniel Yergin's "The Prize." You can also follow Stuart on Twitter.

Read more articles by Stuart Hampton.

Comments

  1. cyberclark says:

    There are now more foreign workers employed in the Alberta Petroleum industry than there are Albertans!

    It is busy because it is resource Give-away; Alberta presently collects nothing on royalty. Other Canadian provinces are collecting 20% US.

    Alberta present production is at 307,000 bbls per day. In a very few years that production is said to go up to 512,000 bbls per day!

    Albertans can not get their heads around that this is the biggest resource rip off in the history of North America if not the world!

  2. Stuart Hampton says:

    @cyberclark,

    Thanks for your comments. As you argue the case, the province of Alberta does seem to be giving away the store, or at least not getting the ROI it deserves.

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