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Canada OIL & GAS Labour Trends

OIL & GAS Labour Trends by Sector

In 2012, the oil and gas support services sector continued to employ the highest numbers of workers (94,100), followed by conventional E&P (72,000). However, oil sands employment grew the most at 10% (22,300) between 2011 and 2012. The number of pipelines jobs has increased 1% (6,800) from 2011 to 2012. 

Oil and Gas Services

Definition: contracted exploration, extraction and production services to the E&P and Oil sands sectors excluding manufacturing and supply of oil and gas-related equipment and products:

  • Petroleum services include well services, oilfield construction and maintenance, production and transportation services
  • Drilling and completions services include drilling and service rig activities
  • Geophysical services (also known as seismic) include survey, permitting and reclamation, line construction, drilling and data acquisition

Trends

  • Employment in the oil and gas services sector will increase to meet growing demands for production from oil sands and shale oil and gas.
  • It is anticipated that the advancement of LNG will also contribute to improved job stability for the oil and gas service workforce due to the continuous need for feed gas to fulfill long-term export contracts (up to 20 years).
  • The oil and gas services sector is already experiencing serious attraction and retention challenges. As the industry's contracted services, the oil and gas services sector's employment is most impacted by oil and gas price volatility.

Conventional Exploration and Production (E&P)

Definition: activity for conventional and unconventional oil and gas reserves, excluding oil sands

Trends

  • The conventional E&P sector demands many unique and specialized occupations, especially in the engineering, engineering technology and geosciences job families. As a result there are fewer labour supply sources for these skilled workers.
  • There is significant transerability of worker skill sets between conventional E&P and in situ operations, the fastest growing type of oil sands activity. This is positive for integrated companies as they can move employees between conventional and in situ operations.
  • Looming retirements of contracted, senior service sector supervisors is also seen as a potential risk. To deal with this risk, some conventional E&P companies are hiring internally rather than contracting for these positions.

Oil Sands

Definition: extraction, production and upgrading of bitumen.

Trends

OS LMI 2022 Thumb

This year's findings substantiate generally accepted beliefs in the future of the oil sands labour force, while other findings point to new challenges and opportunities. Here are a few highlights from the Oil Sands Labour Demand Outlook to 2022:

  • In 2012, oil sands operations employed approximately 22,340 workers. Over the next decade, the oil sands operations sector must add another 16,000 direct new jobs between 2013 and 2022 to meet growing oil sands production. By 2022, employment is projected to reach 38,300 jobs, with in situ employing half of the workforce.
  • Aside from job growth, age-related attrition (retirements and deaths) could create an additional 6,500 job vacancies and when combined with 16,000 new jobs, this results in a hiring requirement of 22,500 jobs over the next decade. Additionally, if three per cent of the oil sands workforce changes companies and/or leaves the sector during each year of the outlook period, hiring activity increases by another 9,350 positions, bringing total hiring requirements to about 31,850 over the next decade.
  • The investment in oil sands development and operations over the next decade is estimated to sustain more than half a million jobs across Canada (direct, indirect and induced). Although the majority of jobs are expected to be in Alberta, more than 20 per cent, or 112,000 will be in other Canadian provinces - such as Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Atlantic Canada. 

Outlooks

The highlights shared above provide a glimpse into the valuable data and analysis contained in the Oil Sands Labour Demand Outlook to 2022. Much more detail, including tables, graphs and breakdowns by operation-type and occupation, are included in the full outlook. Available now!

Pipelines

Definition: mainline transmission for transporting daily crude oil and natural gas production in Canada

Trends

  • If Canada's oil and gas industry is to move toward successful market diversification, a critical necessity will be increasing pipeline capacity and building new pipelines to supply international markets.
  • Pipeline operations are dispersed across Canada and often located in small, rural communities. This can create attraction and retention challenges if a local labour pool is not available and workers are required to relocate.
  • The pipeline sector is planning expansions in regions already experiencing significant skill shortages.