The Cold Lake & Bonnyville area Oil Sands are known as the largest oil sands in Alberta, Canada. The oil in these sands are usually extracted by drilling, as opposed to mining which is done in other oil sands. Working in the Cold Lake Oil Patch is similar to working in other oil patches, and the experiences a worker faces there are not different at all.
Camp Jobs in Cold Lake
An oil patch camp is where a worker both works and lives. It’s similar to a boarding school (except that there’s no homework) and naturally, that a person in an oil patch camp does more labor-intensive work than a schoolchild would ever do.
There is also an array of occupational types in a camp. Aside from roughneck manual laborers, there are also chemists, medics, engineers, biologists, cooks, and even more. Oil camps also run 7 days a week, oftentimes 24 hours a day. It almost seems like oil patch camps can pass off as isolated communities of their own.
It's important to note however, that not all oilfield jobs in Cold Lake are camp jobs. In fact, many people live in Cold lake a make a short drive every day to one of the many sites in the area, including neighboring Bonnyville.
The Cold Lake Oil Patch is usually busier during the winter, when most Canadian oil patches are also busy. The ground is frozen and conditions are harsher, but more oil needs to be drilled, for the cold season demands more fuel for heat.
More people, experienced or not, are hired during these times. Some work for the rigs, some drive the trucks that transport the fuel, and others find their niche in the research part of the camp. Nevertheless, most newly hired employees are required to have training in first aid and (for rig workers) fall protection.
What to expect
Employees in the oil patch often live and work away from their families, and their accommodations and food in the camp are usually provided by the employers. The employers also provide the safety gear, but the employees themselves must bring their own working clothes. This is important especially in the Cold Lake / Bonnyville areas, where frostbite can occur if a worker isn’t properly clothed for 14 hours of work outside.
Work in the oilfields is physically demanding, often involving heavy weights and machinery. Employees, as well as job seekers hoping to work in the industry, should be physically fit and able to handle this line of work. Hearing tests, medical examinations, drug- and alcohol tests are also required for oil patch job hunters.
Oilfield jobs also have the potential to be unstable. Many workers in the Cold Lake Oil Patch work during autumn and winter and then leave the oil patch to either rest or work non-oilfield summer jobs. Regardless, there are enough workers in such a way that the oil field still runs all year round.
Working in the Cold Lake Oil Patch is not entirely glamorous. People must work hard to earn a living, and they would have to bear being separated from a large part of society for months at the time. However, most oilfield jobs provide generous benefits to their workers, and workers who excel can very well form a stable career in the oil industry.
img: Imperial Oil