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Field Production Operator

Field production operators are responsible for initial separation processes or special treatment. These ensure impurities such as water, gas, and sediments are removed from oil and gas in the field. Once separated, the oil or gas is moved by pipeline to refineries, gas plants, or markets.

  • Avg. Salary $80,155.00
  • Avg. Wage $38.03
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 6,400
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Gas Field Production Operator, Oil Field Production Operator, Production Field Operator

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Petroleum, Gas and Chemical Process Operators (9232) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Petroleum, Gas and Chemical Process Operators (J112) 
  • 2011 NOC: Petroleum, gas and chemical process operators (9232) 
  • 2016 NOC: Central control and process operators, petroleum, gas and chemical processing (9232) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

33%
33%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Field Production Operator is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Petroleum, Gas and Chemical Process Operators
OBJECTIVE

Interest in controlling process start-up, shut-down and troubleshooting; and in operating electronic or computerized control panels from a central control room; and in shutting down, isolating and preparing process units or production equipment for maintenance

INNOVATIVE

Interest in analyzing information to develop operator procedures for normal operations, start-up and shut-down of units; and in participating in safety audits and programs, and in providing emergency response when required

directive

Interest in speaking with team members and trainees to authorize or co-sign maintenance work orders; in ensuring adherence to safety and environmental regulations; may work in a team with shared supervisory responsibilities and participate in training other workers

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Depending on the company, field production operators may be in charge of field production for oil wells or gas wells, or both. They optimize production by:

  • Monitoring production and running diagnostics on well performance
  • Maintaining flow lines
  • Scheduling and supervising downhole wireline dewaxing programs on flowing oil wells
  • Monitoring downhole pump efficiency on artificial lift wells and reporting malfunctions
  • Identifying failed equipment and reporting which replacement parts are needed

Senior production operators may identify safety hazards, issue safe work permits, isolate equipment for maintenance, return equipment to operation after maintenance is complete, and supervise work crews to ensure operating practices are safe and comply with legislated and corporate requirements. They may monitor environmental issues and report incidents to regulatory bodies.

Oil field production operators usually are responsible for several wells. The number depends on the size of the oil field, level of automation, production systems, and the company operating the wells. Specific duties vary from one position to another and one company to another. For example, some oil field production operators, called pumpers, are only responsible for checking wellhead equipment. Others, called battery operators, work entirely at batteries (field stations with treatment units, water disposal units, and storage units). However, in most companies, oil field production operators are in charge of wellhead equipment, batteries, and satellite facilities.

If enhanced recovery methods such as carbon dioxide or water injection are used, field production operators may operate either system. Operators must have additional power engineering certification for steam flood operations.

In general, oil field production operators take pressure and flow readings at oil wells. They also:

  • Compute and record well test data
  • Examine equipment on the wellhead to ensure it is running properly
  • Inspect flow lines from the oil well
  • Supervise hot oilers and pressure trucks
  • Examine oil lines for leaks, hydrates, or wax plugging
  • Maintain equipment and troubleshoot problems
  • Isolate system parts for inspection, repair, and cleaning
  • Return equipment to operation after maintenance is complete
  • Report their findings, sometimes by mobile radio
  • Maintain good relations with landowners

At treatment units in batteries, they may:

  • Obtain samples and readings
  • Input data to a computer program
  • Conduct basic tests on different substances
  • Add chemicals to the unit
  • Maintain equipment

At water disposal units and oil storage tanks, they:

  • Measure pressures, temperatures, and flow rates
  • Check storage capabilities
  • Measure levels in the tanks
  • Maintain equipment

Depending on the level of automation of field systems and processes, field production operators may have to manually close and open or adjust valves and pressures in an area. They also check the gathering systems that transport unused gas from the battery to the gas plant or other markets.

In some fields, oil field production operators handle maintenance. Those who work with a helper take charge of training the helper.

Gas field production operators tend to oversee several gas wells depending on the level of automation, the processes and systems used, the size of the gas field, and the company they work for. The amount of travel required depends on whether gas wells are scattered or located near each other.

At each well, gas field production operators:

  • Check equipment that controls the flow and pressure of the well
  • Check valves, flow lines, and hydrate suppression systems
  • Take readings of temperatures, pressures, and flow rates
  • Take gas samples
  • Maintain equipment

They also may put wells online or isolate wells. Where there are no dehydration facilities near a gas well, operators must check the heaters in the gathering system. When there are problems, they may have to:

  • Relight pilot lights
  • Check for corrosion and flow line leaks
  • Adjust valves that control flow from various gathering lines
  • Check compressors
  • Add corrosion inhibitors or dewpoint depression chemicals

If dehydration facilities are near the gas well, field production operators may record readings, take samples, and conduct basic tests on samples.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Oil and gas field production operators must drive to various work sites and may need to lift heavy items. They must be aware of potential hazards (like exposure to toxic chemicals such as hydrogen sulphide) and know how to handle emergencies.

Oil field production operators may work out of a battery or field station. They often must work shifts and be on call.

Gas field production operators work out of a field station or gas plant. They generally work only during the day but they may be on call 24 hours a day.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Field production operators need:

  • Excellent English, oral and written
  • Mechanical aptitude
  • Analytical skills
  • Excellent eye-hand co-ordination
  • Excellent hearing and vision, including colour vision
  • Agility, endurance, and the ability to lift heavy equipment
  • Math aptitude (to prepare charts and graphs)
  • Excellent judgment and a concern for safety
  • The ability to work alone or in a team
  • The ability to work under pressure and make quick decisions

They should enjoy controlling equipment, instruments, and machinery, analyzing information to solve problems, and working with others in a team environment.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020

There are no formal educational requirements for field production operators. However, employers usually prefer to hire people with at least a high school diploma. Candidates should have a Class 5 Alberta driver’s licence. Previous work experience with machines or electrical equipment is a definite asset.

Field production operators are trained on the job and take first aid and safety training courses. These may include:

  • Petroleum Safety Training (PST)
  • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)
  • Hydrogen Sulfide Awareness (H2S)
  • Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG)
  • First Aid / CPR
  • Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA)

Post-secondary schools throughout Alberta offer power engineering courses that may be useful for people interested in becoming field production operators. Oil field production operators who wish to operate steam injection units used in enhanced recovery operations must have at least a 4th Class Power Engineering Certificate. Gas field production operators may benefit from training in gas processing operations.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Grande Prairie Regional College

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Field production operators work for companies involved in producing oil and gas. However, the workload is being filled more and more by small contractors, so owning a vehicle with basic equipment is an asset.

Individuals without experience usually start off as helpers on a contract basis or as junior field production operators. Depending on the company, there may be different categories of helpers or junior operators. After enough on-the-job experience and completed additional courses from the company or other sources, operators may move into field production operator positions.

From field production operator positions, individuals with initiative may work toward supervisory or management positions. With additional technical education or training, they may become:

  • Gas plant operators
  • Petroleum process operators
  • Well-servicing supervisors
  • Gaugers on a pipeline
  • Power plant operators
  • Chemical plant operators
  • Refinery operators

This occupation is becoming highly automated. Job growth depends on new wells being drilled.

Field production operators are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 9232: Petroleum, gas and chemical process operators. In Alberta, 84% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events affecting overall employment, especially in the industries listed above
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation.

In Alberta, the J112: Petroleum, Gas and Chemical Process Operators occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 60 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2020
Petroleum, gas and chemical process operators

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $16.50 $53.81 $32.22 $30.00
Overall $17.00 $56.59 $38.03 $34.66
Top $17.00 $66.60 $44.27 $41.59

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Manufacturing
ALL INDUSTRIES

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

33%
33%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

0%
0%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

0%
0%

Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2020

PetroLMI, Career in Oil and Gas (COG) website: www.careersinoilandgas.com

Energy Safety Canada website: www.energysafetycanada.com

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2020. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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