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Old 07-07-2008, 05:31 PM
32 posts, read 115,783 times
Reputation: 17


Hi guys,

I've heard alot about the money to be made in the oil fields. And I am realistic when it comes to the fact that it can be really cold up there and that the cost of living is high. My question is this: is it possible to get a good job without Oil experience? Just how good is "good" in terms of pay? $100k? $150? How would you go about finding a "good" job? I'd appreciate any first hand POV on this subject if you've been there. Thanks.
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Old 07-07-2008, 06:30 PM
Location: Western Canada
39 posts, read 271,148 times
Reputation: 45
I've not been there, but my brother has worked the rigs for three years now. To get into the job he just contacted a bunch of drilling companies, when one was interested, they had him do a physical fitness type test and a drug test, then hired him (his background was bartending/waiting tables). Three years in, his take-home pay is around $11,000/month (really!) Now, that sounds great, but there are a few things to bear in mind:
1. He works 12 hour shifts 7 days a week for up to 6 weeks at a time (days and nights alternating)
2. When he's at work they're out in the boonies, so he's only home for a week or two every couple of months - this makes having a social life impossible. He's been single for three years.
3. The rigs shut down for a few months every year and if you choose to live on EI during that time, the taxman get you 'cause you gotta pay it back if you earn more than a certain amount (regardless of the fact that you're paying loads into EI)
4. It's dangerous work for young men. This is not a job that'll be good to you over the next 30 years, it's incredibly physical, severe injuries are common (and deaths are not unheard of).

Did I mention that you have no normal social life??? I love that he's able to earn what he wants, but money's only worth so much. He's single and with his schedule that'll not change as long as he's on the rigs. I can't imagine the stress on a marriage for guys who have families they only see for a week or two every couple of months (and they sleep a lot during that time for good reason).

If it still sounds like something you want to do, look up drilling companies in AB and start calling.
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Old 07-07-2008, 07:50 PM
175 posts, read 1,511,295 times
Reputation: 185
K8swirl, I was wondering, since he makes $$$ a month, is it possible to do this on a part-time basis so that he CAN have some social life? Or the company won't allow it?
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Old 07-08-2008, 08:03 AM
Location: Western Canada
39 posts, read 271,148 times
Reputation: 45
It's not really a part-time proposition for the company he works for, not sure if other companies do it. The way it works for him (he's worked for a few different companies and it's been the same across the board) is that he is put onto a crew, say crew A who becomes his crew. They all work the same 12 hour shifts together and on the same turn-around (time on the rig and time off) together. Crew B works the opposite 12 hr shifts so that the rig runs 24 hrs a day (he even gets put into a room with a member of the Crew B so that while he's at work the other guy sleeps in the room and vice versa). Crew A and Crew B would work the same 6 weeks on the rig and have the same 1 or 2 weeks off (they just work back to back shifts). There are other crews who cover while these two crews are on their week or two off. Their time off is unpredictable because sometimes they run into drilling problems where they might have expected to be off but they need to stay on a week or longer to fix the problem before they're allowed off.

It might be difficult to get part-time work partly because of the set crews and because these guys get to know and trust each other on the job and work as a team - don't know if these cohesive teams allow for part-timers. Oh, and I forgot to mention in my last post, these guys spend a good deal of time covered in this drilling mud/grease stuff that is is potentially cancer-causing...the companies have them sign a form saying they understand the risk and won't sue if they get cancer (not on the topic of part-time, but good to know).

Honestly, the money is phenomenal, but the work is so long and hard and dangerous and takes so much of your life, I wouldn't do it. Mind you, I'm a girl (mucking about in cancer-causing drilling mud and grease doesn't appeal to me) and I like to have a social life - so there!

Hope this helps!
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Old 07-08-2008, 08:53 AM
Location: Hougary, Texberta
8,597 posts, read 11,085,198 times
Reputation: 10308
K8 is right. You either work, or don't work. There's no such thing as "part time" as a hand. You work your way up, and as a newbie you get all the crap work as you need to prove yourself. It is dirty, dangerous, hard work. You work obscene hours in every weather. Safety is paramount, and is taken VERY seriously otherwise people die.

Think to yourself, if the money is the only thing, then go for it. You will be out in the middle of no-where staying in crap little motels, eating at greasy spoons, and living with hard working, hard partying guys. You need to be very self motivated and be able to avoid the drink and the drugs that seem to be so easily available once you're on site. If you are still going ya ya ya, then it may be for you.

One other quick thing, mud isn't a carcinogen, but it is caustic, so it causes burns if you leave it sitting on your skin.

If you want an interesting perspective of life on a rig in the Canadian patch look up "The Rig" TV show that was on OLN in Canada. "Black Gold" which is new on Discovery in the US isn't very realistic. Maybe 15 years ago, but not now. The guys are playing it up for the crew, and doing things that are unsafe and would get them thrown off the rig if it was "real".
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Old 07-16-2008, 08:10 AM
1 posts, read 8,501 times
Reputation: 10
I returned from the oil fields last April and NO amount of money is worth it to me. Make sure you have a place to live before you accept any job offer because last I heard they had over 750 people looking for places to live. The money looks very good until you consider the cost of living there. Prices are high here but they are much higher in Fort McMurray.

Just my 2 cents worth.
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Old 07-16-2008, 10:46 AM
Location: Calgary, AB
315 posts, read 1,506,647 times
Reputation: 137
The average price of a single family home in Ft Mc is almost $700K. While many people there choose to rent, vecancy rates are low and rents make places like Toronto and Vancouver look cheap.
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Old 07-16-2008, 11:41 AM
Location: Hougary, Texberta
8,597 posts, read 11,085,198 times
Reputation: 10308
There's alot more to the patch than just Ft. Mac.
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Old 07-16-2008, 11:45 AM
9 posts, read 30,222 times
Reputation: 11
Default OPTIONS available

I thing there has been an assumption of where you want to live, and that you want to work on the rigs.

There is oil money pretty much covering Alberta and Northern BC. In the Grande Prairie area you can buy a little house for around 200K and a family abode for 250k to 550k.

There are jobs other that working "rig pigging". There is amazing money to be had from being a rig labourer, but if you have a journeyman ticket in automotive, machining, heavey duty, electrical, you are set to work in the fix it and rapair it sector of oil and gas machines. If you are willing to start an apprenticeship, many companies pay for the whole shoot and shebang and you get pretty nice money to boot. My husband works a job that is Mon to Fri, and he can pick up weekends too for overtime if he wishes. He makes enough money to keep us comfortable.

If you are good with computers (read this, NO previous certification required, many companies will train the right guy) you can get on with setting up computers and communication services out in the field. It's good money (an aquaintace makes about 4k per month, and a vehicle is provided for his sole private and company related use.)

If you have a significant other that wishes to work a few hours for some extra cash, the local restaurants and pizza joints are paying 15-20 $$ per hour because they can't find enough help.

Just options.
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Old 07-17-2008, 04:59 PM
Location: Houston, TX
17,032 posts, read 26,885,461 times
Reputation: 16190
I have done consulting in Edmonton and Fort Mc Murray. There are lots of jobs there. Many companies are having trouble finding enough people that can pass a drug test. However housing is expensive...you will work a lot and the checks are big though. As others commented if you are on the drilling side its 12 on 12 off for 7 or 14 days then you get off for a week. Great money for a single guy...get some experience and maybe you can work indoors after 10 years.
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