Why Oil & Gas Matters
Oil + Gas Matters
The oil and gas industry contributes to the Canadian economy, by paying royalties, fees and taxes. There are also over 540,000 Canadians directly and indirectly employed by the industry who live, work, pay taxes and support the businesses and services in communities across the country.
According to Alberta Energy, there are more than 3,000 products made from petroleum, including many of the things we use every day – from gasoline and diesel fuel for cars, trucks, buses, trains and boats, jet fuel for airplanes, and natural gas to heat homes, businesses and public buildings, to toothpaste, telephones, garden tools, lighter fluid and lipstick. Countless other products around us are also made from crude oil and natural gas – such as plastics, synthetic rubber, lubricants, paints, solvents, asphalt paving and roofing, insulation and fertilizers.
Here are a few economic fast facts:
- Canada is the fifth largest producer of natural gas and has the third largest proven oil reserve.
- In 2014, natural gas provided $13.3 billion in export revenue to producers.
- Accounts for more than 174,000 direct and 486,000 indirect jobs across Canada. Check out our latest labour market information (LMI) to see where the greatest demand is.
- Canada’s crude oil and gas industry is the largest private sector investor in the country, investing $36 billion in 2016, down from a peak of $81 billion in 2014.
- On average, from 2013 to 2015, the petroleum industry contributed $15 billion to government revenues in the form of royalty payments, land payments (bonus payments) and corporate and municipal taxes.
- Canada produces 25% of North America’s crude oil and natural gas but only consumes 12%. Most of the production is sold to US markets. Crude oil and natural gas account for 80% of Canada’s trade surplus and almost 15% of total exports.
Beginnings of Oil and Gas Safety
With an oil strike in Turner Valley, Alberta launched Canada’s energy industry in the early 1900s. Resources were abundant, but experience was in short supply. Workers were expected to learn on the job and avoid the dangers of a drilling rig’s many moving and often oil-slicked parts.
Not everyone could, and worker injuries and deaths occurred. In 1938, the Calgary Herald described working on an oil drilling rig as “one of the most hazardous occupations in the world.”
Evolving with a Constant Goal
As the industry grew and advanced, so too has the role of safety. With unparalleled development, oil and gas has seen profound changes since that first well in Turner Valley. Companies have made worker safety as much a part of their operations as advancing technologies, maximizing production and delivering shareholder value.
In an industry known for its up and down business cycles, worker safety is now an unfailing constant. For the past decade, the companies, workers, contractors, trade associations and other stakeholders in oil and gas have collectively worked towards a common goal of zero injuries and zero incidents.
The industry operates under very strict safety standards, policies and regulations to ensure the well-being of its workers and the communities in which they operate. Through collaboration, industry continues to pool its expertise and work together to find simple, agreed-upon safety solutions and standards. Working toward a single set of safety standards helps to drive complexity out of the system, and the result is reduced confusion and safer work sites.
Innovation and new technologies are improving safe work performance. Automation and the use of software and technologies—like virtual and augmented reality, unmanned aerial vehicle technology (UAV) and digitalization—can help to enhance safety and reliability while lowering costs.
In addition, wearable tech presents an opportunity for increased personal safety. Devices can protect workers by monitoring their biometrics, predicting fatigue risk, providing real-time information, and even improving emergency response time.
Companies in the oil and gas industry, and those who service them, make big investments to advance safety equipment, tools and technology to reduce the impact of human error and protect workers.
The oil and gas industry is inherently safety sensitive, so it is critical that workers have the training, skills and knowledge to get the job done safely. In addition, employees in the industry have the right to refuse unsafe work and, by law, have a responsibility to work in a safe manner.
All these components of safety—standards, technology and training—are vital to making sure everyone goes home safe at the end of the day.
For more information on safety practices in Canada’s energy industry, visit:
To offset the impacts on air, water and land, oil and gas companies invest millions of dollars in programs and technologies that help reduce their environmental footprint.
New technologies are helping the oil and gas industry to reduce their carbon and methane emissions. A few examples include:
- Solar-powered pumps on drilling rigs and well heads.
- Carbon dioxide capture and storage technologies send CO2 back underground and keep it safely out of the air.
- At oil sands operations, hydrotransport is used instead of trucks to get the bitumen to the upgrading facility, significantly reducing the fuel used.
Water usage has been monitored, licensed and regulated for decades. Large users of water must apply for a license to divert either surface or groundwater.
Oil and gas companies are always seeking new ways to reduce their use of fresh water, and to use – and reuse – water more efficiently. Approximately 90% of the water used in major oil and gas projects is continually recycled and reused.
By law, companies starting new projects must hire biologists and environmental specialists to assess any risks and prevent damage. In addition, before any work is started, archaeologists check leased areas of activity for signs of past inhabitation that must be protected. In some locations, field employees are even asked to keep an eye out for dinosaur tracks!
Seismic companies use low impact techniques to reduce land disruption. Helicopters are used instead of trucks to transport people and equipment. Seismic lines are cut as narrow as possible, often by hand. Trees and brush are mulched to become fertilizer for new growth.
Companies are responsible for reclaiming any land that was disturbed by wells, access roads, pipelines or other related activities. Reclamation activities include replacing saved topsoil and replanting trees and local vegetation.
In all stages of a project, companies strive to minimize their effect on wildlife. Projects protect caribou habitat and migration paths, reintroduce animals (such as the wood bison) to an area, create habitats for fish, birds and animals, and alter project plans to minimize risk to native animal populations like the grizzly bear.
There are many environmental career opportunities, check Career Explorer, our career planning tool to find one that suits you!
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