The world is rapidly becoming a greener place, not only at the level of individual actions (reusable travel mug, anyone?) but also in terms of the opportunities available in the workforce.
As we learn more about the relationship between consumption and the environment, corporations and individuals alike are placing greater importance on environmental responsibility and energy alternatives.
The oil and gas industry is no exception to this rule, despite its established position in the business of conventional energy sources.
Passionate about the environment and alternative energy? Here’s why the petroleum industry might just be perfect for you.
Engaging in dialogue
Today’s petroleum corporations recognize that the public has active and legitimate concerns about the consequences of petroleum exploration.
In 2009, the industry came together with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) to form a program called Responsible Canadian Energy, which charts and publicizes the industry’s efforts to become more environmentally conscious.
The organization went a step further in providing transparency and accountability by having a team of independent industry experts examine their findings and make recommendations for the future, recommendations which tapped into environmental responsibility and land reclamation.
As a student or new grad planning to enter the industry, it’s important for you to know how employers are handling these issues.
CAPP acknowledges the relationship between petroleum development and environmental effects like greenhouse gas emissions, as well as their responsibility to develop land and deposits safely and responsibly. For example, measures like cutting back on the practice of flaring and venting natural gas have been successful in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The industry is already making progress in addressing environmental issues surrounding their products and is taking initiatives to reduce the effects they have on local and regional water resources, air quality and land – and petroleum employers will be hiring more and more students and new grads from programs such as Environmental Science and Environmental Engineering to ensure they continue to make gains in this area.
Pursuing green alternatives
There’s an intense connection between the big business of petroleum and economic well-being. In 2010, natural gas and petroleum products accounted for over 70% of Alberta’s total exports. However, petroleum producers aren’t content to rest on their laurels when environmentally friendly energy sources remain an unexplored area with great potential.
For example, Suncor Energy develops oil and gas resources in both Western Canada and on the East Coast, but it has also invested in wind power. The company currently has four wind power projects in operation, with two more under construction.
Green alternatives also include adjusting and researching existing fuel sources in order to remove or reduce environmental impacts. Suncor’s investment in ethanol production yields 400 million litres a year, avoiding up to 600,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
Other measures directly reduce impact on natural spaces. For example, Cenovus Energy uses reusable wooden mats to create access roads and work areas, minimizing damage to soil and wildlife and avoiding the environmental consequences of permanent road construction.
What it means for you
Make a difference
A corporate emphasis on social and environmental responsibility is a win-win situation. The ability of a large company to make significant environmental changes can’t be disputed. Put together, Suncor’s wind turbines and fuel additives contribute to the avoidance of as much carbon dioxide as some small countries produce in a year!
Find even more jobs with petroleum employers
A focus on different energy sources also means the creation of more job opportunities.
New wind turbine farms open up the need for engineers, electricians, electronic assemblers and controlling staff. Environmental engineers are also in high demand as the industry continues to seek ways to improve the relationship between the world of petroleum and our natural environment. Concerns about environmental consequences should definitely not deter you from working in the petroleum industry!
Work on alternative energy sources
Those passionate in environmental responsibility will also benefit from this growing green trend. Jobs working with petroleum producers to reduce environmental impact will present opportunities to make serious changes for the better. And, even if you start out working on projects that are specifically related to oil and gas, chances are you can move to the company’s alternative energy operations if your skills match up later on in your career!