Kevin - Oilfied Trucker/Landscaper from Alberta Canada
Oilfield work does usually pay more than regular trucking jobs, but be prepared to be away for extended periods and be very bored when on location.
Like the owner of this site, I have used my time wisely over the years and have developed my own website. I got into oilfield work because I was a landscaper and it was a great way to make money in the winter.
(Landscaping seasons are short where I live)
I used my time effectively when I was sitting on location and built my own website in my off-duty time. I was working in northern Alberta and British Columbia. Most of the work in this area is for natural gas wells.
The thing about the oil and gas industry is that it is just so diverse, that there is no one person that could give an accurate description of what it entails to work in it. As a driver, I would concern myself with 2 different areas of oil and gas.
1. Drilling. This is rig chasing, and from this side of the business you can expect to haul a lot of heavy equipment to move earth, machinery, road building equipment, rig matting, rig shacks, drilling fluids, or drilling rigs themselves.
2. Completions. This is a term used to describe everything done after the drilling is done to put the well into production. This is the service side of the business and where you find companies like Halliburton, Sanjel, Schlumberger (Dowel), Tri-can, BJ services.
They are involved in the drilling side as well but usually for cementing casings. On the completions side of the business they are mainly used for "fracturing" the wells. This makes up a very large portion of the trucking industry's involvement in the oil and gas industry.
If you get involved in this side of the business, you can expect to haul everything from CO2, fracturing sand, nitrogen, water, frac oils, machinery and frac equipment, wireline trucks, picker operators, cranes, etc.
Expect to work in extreme temperatures. Expect to have to chain up your tires as you will be offroading a lot. (Not fun with frozen hands when it's -50 and you have to climb a 25% grade in the mountains)
Along with industry courses, expect to do an orientation or short course for just about every oilfield company out there. (There are many). Safety is important, but I am finding that drivers are being "ruled" to death in this industry.
You will find much hypocrisy in this industry as well. Everyone wants to cover their "butts" when on location or on paper, but they want you to push it to get things done when it serves their cause. This will likely never change in any kind of trucking.
Expect to take course after course before you begin. You will need on average about 6 or 8 different courses. Here is a quick list of what I had to take. Most companies will pay for all these courses, and pay you for your time to take them.
First aid, CPR
Confined space entry, basic tank rescue
H2S (sour gas)
Transportation of Dangerous Goods
Hours of service
GODI (General oilfield driver improvement)
PST (Petroleum safety training)
Some other courses are available as well. They are usually related to the jobs you perform while you are working in the "patch".
The pay can be very good in this industry, but it's all about sacrifice. What are you willing to give up for that almighty dollar? In my experience, no amount of money is worth being away from a family for, but we do what we have to.
I can tell you that if you get a good job with the right company and are in a boomtime for business, you can make (after taxes) 3000 to 6000 biweekly. I know this sounds like a lot. I frequently had checks every two weeks that were consistantly over 4000 after taxes with some checks over 5000. Was it worth it? NO. In down times that figure may be in the 2000 to 3000 range. In Northern Canada oilfields, winter is often the busy season as the frozen ground allows more access to certain muskeg areas. There are other reason as well.
You can expect to live out of a truck, camp or hotel all the time with no life and sitting on location for 10 to 15 hours a day doing nothing. (Well that's not true in my case, I built my own website.)
Driving is often dangerous offroad. Steep, icy hills, narrow roads, busy with other big trucks so 2-way radios control most of the roads. It's important to be considerate out there. (Not everyone is though)
So that's just a little about my experience in the "patch" I was fortunate enough to haul fluid, sand, co2, nitrogen, cement, and equipment so I did get to see a little bit more than most, but not all of it.
I no longer work in the Oil and Gas industry as of last year.
As I said before, I am a landscaper by trade and have developed a rather large landscaping site with a series of how-to's, and articles for do-it-yourselfers.
If you wish to contact me about anything at all please visit my website. Dream Yard and use the contact us page.
Thanks so much.
I hope you have learned something from this article?
Best of luck to all.