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Working in the Canadian oil sands: 6 figures in 6 months!
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scotian Offline
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RE: Working in the Canadian oil sands: 6 figures in 6 months!
(08-12-2012 09:35 PM)Ferro Wrote:  Scotian, thank you very much for this great thread. I have read through it and the 5000+ posts on that Oil&Gas thread someone here posted and have harvested a great deal of useful info. This is exactly the kind of opportunity/lifestyle I have been looking for and I would have taken a flight the next day after reading this if I wasn't recovering from my leg surgery.

I will likely be fully recovered and head out around Nov/Dec this year, but in the meantime I have a few quick questions that haven't been fully explored here yet:

1. Could you clarify exactly how the fly-in/fly-out system works vs. just living in Ft. Mac. I mean fi/fo sounds great, but can a guy just starting out there at the bottom expect to get that kind of deal or does he have to work his way up to get it (and how long might that take)? Also what are the downsides for fi/fo: ie. maybe 20% less pay vs those living in Ft. Mac, less OT opportunities, etc?

My ideal scenario sounds like it would be a fi/fo deal from Calgary on a 21/7 or 24/4 shift; where I can ski my ass off and party/mack in the city with my little time off (my ideal lifestyle). Is such a position available for a noob like myself? If not then what are some good career paths to this scenario? Also for fi/fo Calgary deals, should I be applying at their office in Calgary or in Ft. Mac?

2. I have bad knees (hence the surgery), and not the best heart. Exactly how strenuous are the basic bottom 'general labour' type jobs out there, say compared to a job moving furniture (the max stress job I can take). Also how icy/muddy does it get out there; are slips/falls very common?

Thanks for your time.

1. Flying in/out means that you'll definitely be staying in camp and probably won't set a foot in the city of Fort McMurray, you'll be at a remote job site. These positions are available for anyone from a labourer to a skilled tradesman and the office/admin people. The pay is generally the same as someone who lives in Fort Mac, although some people who decide to stay in the city get LOA (Living Out Allowance), generally $150-200/day, tax free. They have to find their own apartment and pay for their food out of that LOA money, generally you'll make money off the LOA, unless you have a really expensive place and eat out all the time.

For me, my company pays for a fully furnished 2 bedroom condo in Fort Mac for me and my co-worker, we get $50/day LOA for food and a company truck to use for work and personal use.

Pros of fly in/out jobs are that since you'll be in camp, you won't spend any money there during your 2 weeks on or whatever rotation you work, then you can live in a much cheaper city like Calgary or Edmonton and during your time off do whatever you want, travel, party, ski, etc.

Cons of fly in/out jobs are that you're in a work camp with a 90% male population, no alcohol (at most of them) and probably won't be getting laid.

Whether or not you're living in Fort Mac, you should be working plenty, at least 70 hours per week. I honestly wouldn't live in Fort Mac unless my company pays my rent or provides LOA, its just too damn expensive, my condo rents for $3500/month, a room in a house will set you back about $1000.

2. The unskilled labour jobs can be strenuous, but they also can be pretty damn easy. Some guys shovel snow all day or dig ditches, others drive guys around site in vans, some do janitorial work. If you can move furniture, then you can find a job in the oil sands.

As you can imagine, it gets icy in the winter. Most companies will provide spikes to wear under your work boots to avoid falling and tripping.

If you're unskilled, the most important thing you can do is get to Alberta first because these companies aren't going to give you much time if you're out of province. It may be a wise idea to start out in Calgary or Edmonton with a company that does fly in/out to Fort Mac, get settled first and see if you like it, acquire some skills and safety tickets then head up to the Mac. Of course, you can go directly to Fort Mac and try to do the same there but I'd make sure you have enough money to cover things like rent and food.

Also, for any of you making the move to Alberta; I can't stress how important it is to have a car out here. I lived in both Calgary and Edmonton for 6 months each without one and it sucked, its not impossible to live here without one but it will make your life a lot easier, trust me.

Don’t sweat the petty things, pet the sweaty things.
08-13-2012 12:30 PM
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Messages In This Thread
RE: Working in the Canadian oil sands: 6 figures in 6 months! - scotian - 08-13-2012 12:30 PM
Risks, opportunities, import/export - OSL - 03-16-2013, 06:58 AM