What Are The Living Conditions Like At An Oil And Gas Operation?


If you’re a student or new grad looking to enter the petroleum industry, you may have some concerns regarding living conditions and your work-life balance.

After all, about 80% of oil industry jobs are located in the field, and even occupations that are located primarily in an office or lab setting, such as engineers and geoscientists, are required to spend some time in the field.

What you should take comfort in knowing, however, is that most companies encourage and promote a healthy work/life balance.

Why? Well, with the current labour shortage and an ever-increasing emphasis on health and safety, oil and gas employers are looking for ways to retain their workforce so people like you won’t leave for other companies or industries. Competition for top talent is stiff and employers want to make you as comfortable and happy as possible. Find oil and gas jobs for students and recent graduates.

For example, rotating shifts, fly-in/fly-out schedules and recreational facilities are often provided in the field, and even some office jobs provide incentives such as flexible work weeks or half-day Fridays.

Working at a remote operation isn’t for everyone, we admit, but here at TalentEgg we like to look on the bright side.

What to keep in mind:

The thought of leaving everything and everyone you know behind to start your career at a remote operation can be a troubling one for many students and new graduates. However, the benefits seem to outweigh the drawbacks for most people. After all, petroleum workers are among the best paid in Canada and you may also have the opportunity to see parts of the country – and the world – that are normally inaccessible to most Canadians.

If that’s not enough to convince you, here are a few more things to keep in mind:

  • There’s no better way to learn: Your employer isn’t sending you to a remote site to punish you – they want you to learn essential skills and knowledge on the job so that, one day, you can move into a more senior role. They’re training you for great things!
  • You’ll build relationships with your colleagues: No, your co-workers don’t provide the same comfort as your mother, but over time you will develop strong professional relationships and friendships with the people you work with.
  • You won’t be stuck in one place forever: With your skills, education and experience, you’ll move up and around quickly. Most oil and gas companies have multiple operations and offices across Canada and even around the world, so chances are you won’t have to spend more than a year or two in any one place.

What to expect:

Feeling like part of a team

Each person on site plays an essential role in the operation, so there is a sense of teamwork and togetherness that is not often experienced in other work environments, says Cheryl Knight, President and CEO of the Petroleum Labour Market Information (PetroLMI) Division of Enform. “People know their own jobs, but they also know how their jobs connect with other people who are part of the operation. Everyone seems so focused and committed to working together as a team to get the job done.”

Rotational work schedules

If you’re starting a career that requires you to spend the majority of your time at an oil and gas operation, chances are you’ll be on a rotational work schedule. That means you are “on” for a length time and then you’re “off” for an extended period of time as well. For example, you might work for two weeks and then have a week off.

This is not your typical Monday-to-Friday schedule, that’s for sure, but how many people do you know who have “weekends” that last a whole week?

Fly-in fly-out commuting

That’s right – you could commute to work in an airplane. Many oil and gas operations are located in remote areas, so companies prefer to fly their workers in for a few days – on rotational schedules – and then fly them home so they don’t have to permanently relocate. While at the operation site, you stay in dorms and typically work 12-hour shifts.

Indoor and outdoor recreation options

Sure, “remote” means in the middle of nowhere, hours from the nearest town. However, it also means that you’ll be surrounded by the natural beauty of Canada’s forests, rivers, lakes and mountains, which offer endless recreational options like hiking, boating, swimming, climbing and more.

Plus, petroleum employers are known for building excellent recreational facilities, such as gyms, pools, courts and tracks, for their workers.

Lots of delicious food

If you ever speak to someone about their experience at an oil and gas operation, chances are the first thing they’ll mention is the food. You’ll eat like a king (or queen) at every meal. It’s a good thing there are so many recreational activities to keep you active!

Have you ever worked at an oil and gas operation? What was your experience like?

Petroleum Week

Visit the Petroleum Career Guide to learn more about careers in the oil and gas industry, and find student and entry-level jobs from top petroleum employers.

Photo credit: White Work Truck by w4nd3rl0st (InspiredinDesMoines) on Flickr