Drilling-worker shortage in Canada’s booming oil industry

Oil DrillerImage via WikipediaAmid all the stories we’re seeing about unemployed workers’ unsuccessful job searches, it’s a welcome change to see one about an industry where workers are being recruited: Canada’s oil-drilling companies say they’re desperately short of workers.  (Clarification: These are at the traditional oil wells, not at the tar sands in Alberta).
Joe Bruce, CEO of Nabors Canada, one of the largest drilling companies in the country, told the Toronto Globe and Mail, “We could probably work somewhere in the region of 63 or 64 of our drilling rigs this winter. We don’t believe we can crew any more than maybe 55 or 56.”
The pay’s not bad, either: Hourly rates for drill workers in Canada range from $24 an hour for a lease hand to $40.20 for a driller. But rig work typically lasts only for a few months at a time, and even the weekly two-on, one-off shifts are often interrupted by changes in plan that come from, for example, companies cancelling wells.
Of course, the recent Globe and Mail story on oil- worker shortages reminds us,
“Convincing people to work outside in cold, remote locations has never been easy for drilling companies. But they say this year has been especially difficult, since drill workers who went without work in the past couple of years have now abandoned the industry – in part for construction jobs and in part to stay away from companies that now admit their salaries haven’t kept up.”
And fewer rigs in operation means fewer runs for the stars of cable’s “Ice Road Truckers” to deliver salty snacks to all those hungry oil-rig workers way up north.
Bruce says, “We’re doing everything we can to attract people,  but at the same time we’re not about to put people at risk by putting a whole bunch of green hands on a rig that don’t know what they’re doing.”
The drilling companies in Canada are also reaching out to “under-represented” groups like women, immigrants, and first-nation workers.
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