Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find out about activity levels in the BC Oil and Gas Industry?

What are wages like in the BC oil and gas service sector?

I work as a tradesperson in a mill and hear that I can make twice as much money doing my trade in the oil and gas industry. Is that true?

I can get a much higher hourly rate going to work in Fort McMurray in the Oil Sands. Why would I take a job in BC?

I want to work in the BC oil and gas industry but don’t want to live in Northeast BC year around. What are my options?

What is an “in demand” occupation?

I want to work in a camp job. What is available?

What is LOA and how much does in pay?

Where are most of the oil and gas job sites?

How does the cost of living in Northeast BC compare to other parts of the province / Canada?

I live outside northeast BC but would like to move there and start a trade apprenticeship. Do companies take on new apprentices?

What training and tickets do I need and where can I get them?

I have heard that housing and accommodation are hard to get in Northeastern BC. Is that correct?

 

 

Q How do I find out about activity levels in the BC Oil and Gas Industry?

A The BC Oil and Gas Commission has readily available information about activity levels available at https://www.ogc.gov.bc.ca/activitylevels.asp. A leading indicator of activity levels are the number of rigs drilling. View the "Rig Activity List" at this site. https://www.ogc.gov.bc.ca/riglist.asp [back to questions]

Q What are wages like in the BC oil and gas service sector?

A Industry wages (hourly rates) for BC oil and gas workers are generally at the top end of the provincial scale for the type of position. However, demand, working conditions, seasonality, job location, duration of the job, employer as well as the skill and experience of the employee are all factors that affect the wage. As with all employment, there is a higher demand for experienced workers who usually receive a higher starting wage. Previous oil and gas experience is preferred by many employers. [back to questions]

Q I work as a tradesperson in a mill and hear that I can make twice as much money doing my trade in the oil and gas industry. Is that true?

A Earning potential can be much higher in oil and gas, but it is often linked to longer working days and weeks. Doubling your income does not necessarily mean doubling the hourly rate you currently get. [back to questions]

Q I can get a much higher hourly rate going to work in Fort McMurray in the Oil Sands. Why would I take a job in BC?

A Fort McMurray does offer some great opportunities for workers and they have a huge demand for workers in the oil sands. They are able to offer a premium rate for specific skills which helps offset the high cost of living and transportation costs associated with getting workers to/from the job sites. However, we have found that there are a lot of workers who are attracted to BC where we offer a variety of communities and lifestyle options. Our housing is much more affordable and we offer a great lifestyle for workers and their families who are looking to settle in an area where they can have many opportunities for career advancement. [back to questions]

Q I want to work in the BC oil and gas industry but don’t want to live in Northeast BC year around. What are my options?

A For full time, year around work, most employers prefer or require that their workers relocate where they can be readily available for work. “Fly In / Fly Out” on a scheduled shift rotation is not common in the BC oil and gas service sector at this time. However, experienced workers whose occupations are “in demand” may wish to propose alternate or non-traditional scheduling to potential employers who may not have considered the option. When presented with qualified workers in hard to fill positions, they may be able to negotiating a more flexible work arrangement. [back to questions]

Q What is an “in demand” occupation?

A The occupations we identify as “in demand” fall in to two general categories. Those where there are long-term, chronic shortages such as trades, geomatics and surveyors positions where the demand for workers is significantly higher than the pool of candidates. The other type of “in demand” positions are those that are generally easier to find the skill set, such as equipment operators, drivers and labourers, but where the seasonal demand is such that many of those type of workers are required for part of the year. Remember that “in demand” does not mean the only positions available – they just represent the most predictable opportunities. [back to questions]

Q I want to work in a camp job. What is available?

A Camps jobs are available year around, but they also increase with winter activity levels when more temporary worker accommodation is required. Some employers off regular camp work, while other offer it only during specific jobs. [back to questions]

Q What is LOA and how much does in pay?

A LOA or Living Out Allowance is a non-taxable benefit sometimes paid to workers who are required to provide their own accommodation while working on a job. The amount varies by employer, by the geographical location and by the season as it is meant to cover the out-of-pocket expenses the employee incurs while working. Variables like the cost of hotel rooms, apartment vacancy rates and other cost factors help companies determine their LOA rate. It is generally not meant to be a bonus, but is intended to cover legitimate expenses incurred by employees who normally don’t reside in the region but come in to work on a project by project basis. [back to questions]

Q Where are most of the oil and gas job sites?

A Unlike many industrial jobs, in oil and gas the job site could be a few miles from town or hundreds of kilometers away. Exploration and development occur throughout northeast BC, but two new developments that are receiving worldwide attention are the Horn River and Montney plays. By viewing activity maps provided by the Ministry of Energy, Mines & Petroleum Resources, potential workers can see the location of existing wells in these two key basins. Every black “dot” on the map is an existing well which demonstrates how close (or far away) they are from the service centers.Activity Maps [back to questions]


Q How does the cost of living in Northeast BC compare to other parts of the province / Canada?

A ESBC does not have current comparisons, but we have prepared a table where site visitors can compare costs by viewing online flyers from local merchants. View Cost of Living Table [back to questions]

Q I live outside northeast BC but would like to move there and start a trade apprenticeship. Do companies take on new apprentices?

A Yes, but they tend to start with workers who already live in the region and who may stay in the program and with the same employer. If you are moving to the region, you should be prepared to begin working with a company in an entry level position to allow them time to determine your suitability for apprenticeship with their company. Many ESBC members are small businesses who have limited training resources so they need to know that when they take on apprentices, they are serious about the trade and committed to the company. [back to questions]

Q What training and tickets do I need and where can I get them?

A View the information listed under Training and Certifications [www.energyservicesbc.org] [back to questions]

Q I have heard that housing and accommodation are hard to get in Northeastern BC. Is that correct?

A It varies in availability and price depending upon activity levels and the season. Workers that come the region SHOULD NEVER assume that they will be able to get accommodation when they arrive. Using the links provided under the Community Map, workers should research and pre-arrange accommodation before coming to the region. Review the information in “Know Before You Go” for other tips on preparing for a job search in the region. [back to questions]

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