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Working in the Canadian oil sands: 6 figures in 6 months!
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komatiite Offline
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Post: #2076
RE: Working in the Canadian oil sands: 6 figures in 6 months!
@Scotian thanks for the kind welcome dude, this is a sweet thread, have been reading it on and off for months, but never got around to contributing until now. What was your buddy doing, wireline or geology?

Wireline is actually slow as hell, I actually was only on one site with loggers in my three years doing wellsite. The issue is that oil companies will not log holes if the government does not ask them to (it takes up to 24 hours and that is a huge expense!), and they don't force it on companies very often anymore. The reason for this is because 90% of wells drilled nowaways are horizontal, and wireline logging a horizontal well is basically impossible to do with the accuracy of a vertical well- just visualize the logging tool, which is often about 15m long or so. Once the hole is at about a 65 degree inclination, the tool will get stuck. They have tried to come up with some alternatives, like DataLogs, but they are still in their infancy. It is actually sort of useless to log a lot of holes these days anyways because even if the log shows weak porosity, fracking will just run train through the target rock formation, fuck shit up and stimulate the flow they need! I would not recommend anyone in this tread to pursue work with wireline companies solely for that reason, unless I guess you have a BSc in engineering. I know a few guys who did petroleum engineering technology at both NAIT and SAIT who went the logging route (generally as assistants to the actual engineer in the wireline truck), and are either sitting on their asses all the time or are now working elsewhere.

I got my start in wellsite after graduating from my university with a geology degree... worked all around NE BC, Alberta and Sask. It is pretty fucking lucrative, at my peak I was clearing about 1400 a day, but obviously a lot of that goes towards food, truck, gas etc. No benefits or anything obviously. I ended up retiring at the ripe ol age of 25 to get more education because the geology side of the oil patch is quite slow... Like I mentioned above, most wells drilled now are horizontal. Consider formations such as the Bakken, Cardium, Montney, etc in Canada. Its not like these companies suddenly discovered there is oil in these rocks yesterday- they have known how loaded they are since the 1950s! It hasnt been until now that they can unlock them however. So because of that, the need for geologists to develop new play ideas has dwindled- they just need armies of engineers to design wells that can produce the hell out of these rocks! However, the demand for wellsite geologists has doubled due to horizontal drilling. I talked about this in the North Dakota thread, but basically in the past, vertical wells were drilled much slower, due to the low tech drill bits. However the emergence of PDCs and tricones has dramatically sped up drilling speeds, so having a single wellsite geologist on site was too risky- often you could drill 500 m in a day, which would be too overwhelming for just one guy to geologically log- he would be awake for days at a time! So they now have a night shift geologist, usually a kid, who comes in when they start deviating to horizontal. This way, you always have one geologist awake while drilling. The big advantage to this is that the directional driller will not try to increase drill speed (which makes the engineers in the office happy- a matter of money), which often leads to deviations from the general proposed horizontal drilling path of best porosity (which is what the project geologist in the office in Calgary wants to follow). It generally is a happy marriage.

Anyways, getting into wellsite geology now generally requires a BSc in geology. Since there are so many geologists who cannot get work in downtown Calgary, the geologist market is quite saturated. I have worked with guys with either a SAIT geology tech diploma or even just high school, but they got in years ago when the educational requirements were not so high. Now, I often see dudes with Masters degrees in geology who have to go to the rigs, when 10 years ago they would be snatched up to work in the office- definitely a sign of the evolution of the industry! And now there are geophysicists who have to do wellsite geology because NOBODY shoots seismic anymore. AND, since the mineral industry is in the shitter, tons of young geologists who mined/explored for Cu, Au, Ag, Zn, Pb, REE etc have been laid off in waves, so many are now seeking opportunities in wellsite work. To sum it up, I would have to say that if you want to work on the rigs in a warm shack without any technical education, the best route is to do MWD- it would be basically impossible to get into it without a 4 year geo degree, although I firmly believe that you don't need any degree to do wellsite, just a good mentor. There will obviously be outliers, but this is pretty standard these days. However, if any young geos are reading this thread, do not hesitate to give wellsite a shot- there are lots of opportunities due to the doubled employment rates I discussed above, and if you want to make a shitload of money and have 4 months off during breakup, check it out! It's a great way to learn about the oil industry as well, I do admit I got sick of that lifestyle so I quit, but I wouldnt trade that experience for anything, I am a much better rounded oil industry employee now because of it.
12-14-2013 01:03 AM
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Messages In This Thread
Risks, opportunities, import/export - OSL - 03-16-2013, 06:58 AM
RE: Working in the Canadian oil sands: 6 figures in 6 months! - komatiite - 12-14-2013 01:03 AM