By February 24, 2016 Read More →

Canada’s oil sands workforce impacted by shift from expansion to maintenance

At peak construction, oil sands still require 38,000 construction workers to maintain operations, could hire 9,500 operations positions

oil sandsA shift in Canada’s oil sands sector from growth and expansion to improving the reliability and performance of existing operations will have long-term impacts on the sector’s workforce requirements.

By 2020, the sector will experience a decrease in demand for about 10,305 on-site construction workers but generate 5,170 operations and 4,700 ongoing maintenance jobs, according to PetroLMI’s latest labour demand outlook report.

The report, Oil Sands Construction, Maintenance and Operations Labour Demand Outlook to 2020, provides insight into the impact of 2015 spending and production forecasts on longer-term hiring requirements in the oil sands sector.

With a 30 per cent decrease in capital spending in 2015, the oil sands sector delayed, deferred or cancelled a number of projects.

“Overall workforce requirements for the oil and gas industry has been severely impacted by a reduction in investment. However, substantial capital has already been invested in large-scale oil sands projects so hiring is expected to continue to 2020,” said Carol Howes, VP of communications and PetroLMI, with Enform.

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As a result, demand for future on-site construction labour has been significantly reduced. At the same time, however, production from the oil sands sector will continue to grow across mining, in situ and upgrading operations from projects that are either in the late stage of construction or have recently transitioned into operations.

“What remains to be seen, as on-site construction of major projects winds down towards the latter half of the forecast period, is the impact of lower oil sands capital investment on production and jobs after 2020,” said Howes.

At peak construction, the sector will still require approximately 38,000 construction workers annually to maintain operations and could hire up to 9,500 operations positions, assuming historical retiring patterns continue.

oil sands

Carol Howes, Vice President of Communications and PetroLMI, with Enform

“One of a number of factors that could impact future hiring is the rate of retirement and how much the recent downturn has impacted retirement rates,” said Howes.

“Another important consideration is that this report is based on certain capital and production assumptions, so further capital spending or production cuts will also impact these future labour requirements.”

The oil sands sector is expected to achieve significant productivity gains over the next few years as cost reductions occur at the same time that production increases.

“As the industry works towards returning to profitability, it is expected that companies will streamline processes and invest in technologies to further improve operational efficiencies,” said Cameron MacGillivray, president and CEO of Enform.

“And, what that means for the future is that companies will need to continue to attract, retain and develop a highly skilled workforce in order to maintain any productivity gains.”

Oil Sands Construction, Maintenance and Operations Labour Demand Outlook to 2020, is one of a series of employment outlooks to be released by PetroLMI in early 2016. Other reports will include labour market insight into the exploration and production (E&P) sector, oil and gas services, pipelines and liquefied natural gas (LNG).

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