While the majority of oil and gas jobs in Canada are located in Alberta, the truth is that the industry actually operates in 12 of our 13 provinces and territories, and depending on which career path you pursue or which company you work for, you could find yourself working at operations, offices and off-shore drilling rigs across the country.
Oil and gas operations are already well established in provinces like Alberta, B.C., Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, but other areas of the country, such as Manitoba, Quebec, P.E.I. and the North are just starting to discover significant deposits or ramp up production operations.
Here is a guide to Canada’s oil and gas activity, province by province:
B.C. is the second-largest natural gas producer in Canada, with most of its activity located in the northeast part of the province, in the Peace River region near Fort Nelson and Fort St. John, in the winter months.
Between 2008 and 2012, more than 3,000 wells were drilled in B.C. However, only about 2,200 people work in the oil and gas industry in this province – once the wells are drilled, the natural gas can be pumped out by machines and not very many people are required to maintain the operations.
You probably already know this, but Alberta is the largest producer of oil and natural gas, and oil and gas products, in Canada. It is estimated that the oil sands – located in the northeast near Fort McMurray – alone contain 1.6 trillion barrels of unconventional oil, equal to the conventional oil reserves of the rest of the world! Some of the most innovative advancements in oil and gas extraction techniques and technology have also been developed here, such as in-situ steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD).
At least 275,000 people are employed directly or indirectly by the oil and gas industry in Alberta, and the vast majority of entry level petroleum jobs can be found here, both in the field and at the offices and labs of Canada’s largest oil and gas companies and their service providers.
Wondering where you’ll work? Major oil fields are found in southeast Alberta, including Brooks, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat; northwest, including Grande Prairie, High Level, Rainbow Lake and Zama; central, including Caroline and Red Deer; and the oil sands in the northeast of the province. Most jobs that don’t require field work are typically located in Calgary – more than 200 head offices can be found there.
Saskatchewan is Canada’s second largest producer of oil and third largest producer of natural gas, with over 26,000 people working in the industry there. The industry consists mostly of shallow gas wells in southwestern Saskatchewan, such as Hatton and Cypress Hill, and the southeast, such as Lougheed and Weir Hill. Oil extraction is located primarily around Lloydminster in the northwest near the Alberta border, and in the southeast near Weyburn.
This province is also known for the innovative research that is taking place there at facilities such as the Petroleum Technology Research Centre and the International Test Centre for Carbon Dioxide Capture in Regina. The research is focused on developing more efficient methods for extracting oil and gas, and lessening the impact of these activities on the environment.
According to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), Manitoba has doubled its crude oil production since 1999 with the development of the Sinclair field and is now producing more than 22,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
Manitoba’s current oil production is located in the southwest and, in June, the province was named the best place in Canada for oil and gas investment, ahead of Saskatchewan and Alberta. It seems like Manitoba has a lot of potential for future career opportunities!
Although Canada’s first commercial oil well was drilled in southern Ontario in the 1850s, it is no longer a significant petroleum producer. Today, the province’s manufacturing sector is an important supplier for the oil sands industry in Alberta, with 16% of jobs created by the oil sands located in Ontario. Sarnia is the province’s petrochemical hub, with more than 60 facilities and refineries located in and around the city.
According to CAPP, “new and existing oil sands projects will require an estimated $55 billion worth of goods, materials, and services from suppliers in Ontario – Canada’s largest province – by 2035.”
Historically there has not been much oil and gas production in Quebec, but new deposits of shale gas were found along the province’s St. Lawrence Lowlands in 2008, and 2009 was the first year of production. Similar to Ontario, Quebec provides goods, materials and services to construct and operate oil sands projects in Alberta.
New Brunswick is not a significant contributor to oil and gas production in Canada either, but there are a number of natural gas and oil wells in the province. New Brunswick’s claim to fame is that Canada’s largest oil refinery is located in Saint John: the Irving Oil refinery there accounts for more than 40% of Canada’s total petroleum exports.
You may not think of Halifax as a natural resources hub, but it is the gateway to a number of offshore natural gas operations near Canada’s east coast, such as the Deep Panuke field, approximately 250 kilometers southeast of Nova Scotia. Meanwhile, the northern mainland and Cape Breton Island are now being tapped for their potential for coalbed methane and shale gas.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, via St. John’s, are significant deposits of crude oil, found in the region’s three offshore oil projects: Hibernia (the world’s largest oil platform), Terra Nova and White Rose. These operations are located in extremely harsh environments, but each project employs hundreds of workers. There are currently more than 3,000 people working in oil production in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Newfoundland and Labrador produces more than 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day, which accounts for a whopping 12% of Canada’s total crude oil production, and that number is set to increase with a fourth offshore oil development, Hebron, expected to begin production by 2017.