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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!
(05-24-2014 07:00 PM)mauds Wrote:  I read this thread two times from start to finish before I posted my first response. The realization that I came to is that:

1: You have to be there. Once you arrive you pound the pavement and look for your ideal job, but do not in any way get stuck on that choice. A well paying job that allows you to live and eat is better than hoping for that one job. Personally, I placed a lot of focus on guys like Atlantic and Albertron who have had success doing just that.

2: Be persistent. If you go and talk to a recruiter who says they will get back to you in a few weeks time, don't just settle for that expecting something to come from it. Make yourself known to these people as a person who wants to work. Call, show up, ask to talk to them again. The worst case scenario is that they get tired of having you show up and give you a job.

3: If at all possible, get a vehicle. If you are looking for a fly-in/fly-out job off the bat, you will be sorely disappointed at the outset. Also, having a vehicle makes you plainly more attractive to potential employers.

4: Sacrifice. Simply give up your thoughts of having lots of time off and make yourself readily available. Scotian recommended this as being the go-to-guy. If you just came off a rotation, and your boss calls asking if you can do relief work, do it. Build up your reputation by doing what others won't.

5: Network. If you want to get into a trade, go to the local union offices and talk to someone. Don't pass up any opportunity to learn more about the craft at any time. You will never know who will be able to help you out.

These are the most important ideas that I have taken from this thread. If anyone cares to add anything, please do. Seriously though, just read from page 1 and don't stop.

Mauds gets it, for those of you thinking of moving to Alberta or those of you who made the move but haven't found work yet, read this over and over and over and over, print it off and post it on your fridge if you have to, these should be considered the "5 golden rules" for success in the oil patch, +1 from me Mauds.

There's a few things I'd like to add to Maud's excellent post, most importantly is #1 about getting a decent job when you get out here and not being too fussy about what it is. It doesn't have to be oil related, Atlantic busted his ass doing landscaping when he first arrived and guys like Albertron have picked up work at bars and pubs. If you wait for you big opportunity at an oil gig, you may find yourself running out of money and depressed that you can't find work. Overall, I've been impressed with the good fortune that a lot of the guys who've moved out here have had so far, a lot of them are working in good trades and moving up the ladder quickly. That being said, a lot of them moved out in late 2012 and 2013, it was busier then and more companies were hiring unskilled newbies off the street. As has been mentioned several times on this thread, the oil industry is cyclical and some months and/or years are busier than others, although that can change very quickly, all it takes is for one or more big construction projects to start up (which is going to happen soon enough) and things will really pick up, especially during shut down season when available labour is tight. Again this is completely normal and if you've been reading the thread, you would understand this but I'll break it down for you fellas in a time line:

2004-end of 2008:
These were the "glory days" when it was fucking booming, it was pretty crazy and basically anyone with a pulse who moved to Alberta could walk into any union hall or contractor office and get a job in any area he desired. Vacancy rates in all Alberta cities were the closest to zero they could be, I moved out in the summer of 06' and ended up living with way too many people in an apartment in Etown. There was major construction going on at the time: Suncor upgrader expansion, CNRL Horizon construction, Shell Albian construction, SAGD plant construction near Conklin, etc.

2009: The economy tanked and the price of oil went from $140/barrel to $35 almost over night and all of the oil majors cancelled and moth balled a bunch of projects, some still haven't re-started to this day. I was laid of twice in two months and had to move from Calgary to Edmonton to get work (how horrible!).

2011-2013: Once the price of oil got back up, confidence among investors and big oil went up and projects came back online: construction of Exxon kearl Lake project, construction of Husky Sunrise, construction of Conoco Philips Surmont 2 and a bunch of expansions at existing sites and SAGD ops.

2014: There's no big construction projects that have kicked off lately, so its slower now than it has been in the past five years, since the recession basically. As I mentioned above, all it takes is for one big oil sands project to kick off and things will really pick up, I heard through the grape vine that Suncor's previously mothballed Fort Hills mine is getting under way and the civil work is being done now (in ground piping, pile driving, etc), it won't be long until steel is moving up there. From Suncor's Fort Hill's website:

"The project is operated by Suncor, and is scheduled to produce first oil as early as the fourth quarter of 2017 and achieve 90% of its planned production capacity of 180,000 barrels per day within 12 months. The mine life is expected to be in excess of 50 years at the current planned production rate. Fort Hills will create work for approximately 5,000 construction workers at the peak of construction and approximately 1,600 permanent positions when the mine and bitumen production facility are fully operational."


Another project that is coming along is the North West Upgrading facility being built in Redwater, about 40 minutes north of Edmonton, as far as I can gather from the website, the civil work is done so the steel, piping etc should be moving up there soon. The guys working at the Edmonton fab shops would know this better than myself, but you can expect that to be picking up later this year, check out the company's latest update here. From that report the company states:

"Site infrastructure and civil grading activity done over the past many months have helped to ensure that spring thaw and associated runoff water is managed efficiently and work at the site remains highly productive. Approximately 600 personnel are engaged at the site at this
time......"


So, for those of you who are wondering if or why its slow at the moment, this is entirely normal and I've said it from the beginning, the oil biz is cyclical and you can expect ups and downs, your best bet is to save as much money as you can for a rainy day and upgrade your skill set ASAP and ideally, get a job that is involved in the maintenance and repair of oil processing facilities (upgraders, refineries, etc) to ensure that you stay busy, long term.

The guys who are having the most success aren't the ones who moved out here purely motivated to make some quick easy money then fuck off, the fly-by-nighters as we call them, some of them manage to make some decent coin but they're usually experienced and have tickets or are just hard working red neck types who jump on a rig or a construction job then bounce. The successful guys are thinking long term, they know that they aren't going to make the huge money over night, most of them are working somewhat "normal" hours in Edmonton and Calgary, have social lives and friends and are honing and upgrading their skills in their respective trades in more laid back, safe work environments such as the welding fabrication shops in Nisku and NOT on the big oil sands sites. Once these guys are comfortable in their trades and especially when they go back to school to upgrade their skills and tickets, they'll jump on the big money jobs out of town, the time will come for them and I'm sure they'll be successful.

I'm going to write some more later about why I don't think that Fort McMurray is a great place for a new guy and why guys should consider living and working down south rather than jumping head first into the BIG DIRTY!

Don’t sweat the petty things, pet the sweaty things.
05-24-2014 08:45 PM
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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! - scotian - 05-24-2014 08:45 PM