Entry Senior

Petroleum Plant and Facility Operator

Photo courtesy of Cenovus Energy

About This Career

Petroleum Plant and Facility Operators control, operate, monitor, inspect, maintain and troubleshoot vital process control systems and equipment in plants and facilities found in the upstream petroleum industry. They play a key role in a company’s ability to operate efficiently and meet oil or gas production targets.                         

Petroleum Plant and Facility Operators oversee equipment and processes in the field. This can range from small gathering pipelines that deliver oil or gas from one or more wells to a system of tanks and other surface equipment designed to separate and measure oil, gas and water.

Their roles are also required in central processing plants that are designed to separate oil, gas and bitumen from other substances, remove impurities and ready the product for transportation. As well, they are required in pipeline facilities such as pump stations, tank farms, terminals and compressor stations that transport oil, gas and bitumen for further processing or to market.

Education: A high school diploma (or equivalent) and an aptitude for mathematics, computers, mechanics, chemistry or physics are typically required. Some employers prefer a post-secondary diploma in petroleum, electrical, mechanical or instrumentation engineering technology or a production field/gas process operations certificate. Plants and facilities that use pressurized equipment will require operators to have a power engineering certification. Specific skills and knowledge are dependent on the type of process and equipment used.

Employment: This occupation is found in both onshore and offshore environments and is typically employed by the oil sands, exploration and production (E&P), oil and gas services, and pipeline sectors of the oil and gas industry.

Example titles: Bitumen Plant Operator, Gas Plant Operator, Gas Compressor Operator, Gauger, Heavy Oil Process Operator, Pipeline Operator, SAGD Facility Operator, LNG Plant Operator, LNG Process Operator, Operator Technician, Battery Operator, Process Operator, Pump Station Operator, Production Operator, Facility Operator, Waste Treatment Operator

Work Activities
Applying Health and Safety principles
Ensuring that all safety protocols and regulations are being administered.
Ensuring that environmental protection initiatives are being adhered to.
Initiating the emergency response procedure.
Participating in safety audits and programs, and providing emergency response support when required.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers or Subordinates
Signalling other workers by phone or radio to operate pumps, open and close valves, and check temperatures.
Controlling Machines and Processes
Controlling the equipment used in the repressurization process.
Controlling the upgrading process (e.g., hydrogen addition, carbon rejection or carbon concentration and removal).
Shutting down, isolating and preparing process units or production equipment for maintenance.
Operating specialized equipment used to separate, measure and store products coming from a well.
Operating specialized equipment required to convert raw natural gas to sweet or sour gas (e.g., reciprocating and centrifugal compressors, absorbers and regenerators, sulphur recovery units, centrifugal pumps and steam turbines).
Controlling the heavy oil (in situ) production process (e.g., using hot steam to lower the viscosity of oil).
Starting pumps and open valves or using automated equipment to regulate the flow of oil in pipelines and into and out of tanks.
Documenting/Recording Information
Recording production statistical data and maintaining relevant logs.
Getting Information
Measuring and testing batch petroleum products before allowing them to enter the pipeline system.
Gauging, metering, sampling and testing procedures associated with product batches.
Sampling and testing product batches.
Guiding, Directing and Motivating Subordinates
Authorizing maintenance and repair activities on production equipment.
Handling and Moving Objects
Preparing equipment for the commissioning, start-up or maintenance process.
Adjusting equipment, valves, pumps and process equipment.
Extracting the sand from bitumen by adding steam, water and caustic soda.
Monitor Processes, Materials or Surroundings
Monitoring maintenance and repair activities on production equipment.
Monitoring the equipment used in the repressurization process.
Monitoring internal and, in some cases, external measurement devices and gauges.
Checking the product levels and temperatures of all unit pumps and control valves in the pumping and compressor stations.
Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices or Equipment
Controlling the extraction process (e.g., tumblers, mixers, vibrating screens and primary separation vessels).
Operating equipment that converts heavy bitumen into lighter petroleum products that can be easily transported by pipeline to refineries (e.g., distillers, diluents recovery units, cokers, vacuum distillation units, hydrotreaters)
Quality Assurance
Verifying that incoming and outgoing products are moving through the correct meters, and that meters are working properly.
Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment
Maintaining and repairing equipment.
Attention to Detail
Production and Processing
Operation and Control
Operation Monitoring
Computer use
Career Path
  • Assistant Shift Supervisor
  • Chief Engineer
  • Chief Inspector
  • Control Room Operator
  • Environmental Health & Safety roles
  • Lead Operator
  • Process Safety roles
  • Production Foreman
  • Shift Supervisor
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Working Conditions
  • Field 2
    Field Visits
  • Steeringwheel
    Driving Required
  • Variable weather
    Inclement Weather
  • Road
    Remote Locations
  • Industrial excavator
    Active Machinery
  • Arrow
    Shift Work
  • Physical
    Physically Demanding
  • Overtime
    Some Overtime Required
  • Relocation
  • Hazardous
    Hazardous Conditions
Similar Jobs In Other Industries
Careers also exist in the following industries:
  • Chemical manufacturing
  • Mining and quarrying
  • Paper manufacturing
  • Petroleum and coal product manufacturing
  • Plastics and rubber products manufacturing
  • Primary metal manufacturing
  • Public administration, including regulatory
  • Utilities, including renewable energy
  • Wood product manufacturing
Job Details

Job Category




Oil and gas services

Oil sands

Exploration and production


9232, 9241

Qualifications + Experience


  • High School Diploma (or equivalent)


  • Standard and emergency first aid
  • H2S Alive


  • Most employers require a valid Class 5 driver’s licence

Additional Requirements:

  • Ability to pass a pre-employment physical assessment and drug test