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Well Service Equipment Operator

Well service equipment crews are called in at different times during the development of oil and gas wells. They perform specialized oil field service operations such as cementing, acidizing, fracturing, or nitrogen injection.

  • Avg. Salary $75,145.00
  • Avg. Wage $36.52
  • Minimum Education High school diploma
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 4,500
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Equipment Operator, Gas Well Service Equipment Operator, Oil Well Service Equipment 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: Oil and Gas Well Services Operators (8412.2) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Oil and Gas Well Drilling Workers and Services Operators (I142) 
  • 2011 NOC: Oil and gas well drilling and related workers and services operators (8412) 
  • 2016 NOC: Oil and gas well drilling and related workers and services operators (8412) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

45%
45%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Well Service Equipment Operator is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Oil and Gas Well Services Operators
DIRECTIVE

Interest in driving trucks to well sites and in operating systems to pump chemicals, gases, sand, cement and other materials into wells

METHODICAL

Interest in monitoring pressure, density, rate and concentration during pumping operations

innovative

Interest in copying information to read gauges to interpret conditions and adjust pumping procedures; may mix chemicals and cement

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

Well service equipment operators perform various specialized services. Their duties and job titles vary from one employer to another and one type of service to another. In general, they:

  • Prepare trucks, equipment, materials, and supplies
  • Deliver equipment and materials to well sites
  • Meet with rig personnel to discuss and plan specialized operations
  • Use hand tools to assemble and connect equipment
  • Direct and assist helpers, floorhands, and derrickhands in the use of hoisting equipment where necessary
  • Monitor control panels and operate equipment controls
  • Keep records and prepare reports about service operations
  • Train and supervise helpers
  • Service and maintain equipment

Pumping services involve the use of high-pressure pumping equipment and chemicals, fluids, or gases. Different operations require different materials. Pump equipment operators often provide a specific service:

  • Cementing services are needed when an oil or gas well is being cased, or for remedial work. During cementing, a special mixture of cement, water, and additives is pumped through the casing or tubing to seal and secure it.
  • Acidizing or fracturing (fracking) services may be needed to increase the flow of oil or gas from a well. In acidizing, a strong acid such as hydrochloric acid is pumped into the well to open flow channels in the rock. In fracturing, a treating fluid containing granular material (called sand) is pumped under pressure into the well. This fractures the underground rock formation, creates channels in the rock formation, and improves production.
  • Nitrogen injection services involve pumping nitrogen gas combined with acidizing or fracturing fluids into wells. This can increase the flow of oil or gas, displace fluid from the well bore, or pressure test well heads and tubing.

Depending on the job, pump equipment operators may have added responsibilities, such as mixing materials.

Coil tubing operators insert the continuous coiled tubing used to pump fluids, such as water, oil, acid, and nitrogen gas, down a well. This can stimulate formation, clean out the wellbore, or condition the well for other services. Coiled tubing can also supply mechanical force to operate downhole tools and equipment. It can also be used during fracking operations to reach specific areas of the well bore or for milling out plugs.

Completion or service tool operators install completion equipment. This controls reservoir pressures and production flow.

Fishing tool operators, sometimes called downhole tool operators, use tools designed to retrieve objects that must be removed from the well bore before work can proceed. They meet with drilling personnel to determine the best method and tool to use. They also direct tool assembly and operation.

Power tong and casing operators use hydraulic power tongs to connect casing as it is lowered into a well. They manage hydraulic controls that provide power, operate the power tongs, and monitor pressure gauges. Pressure gauges ensure the correct amount of pressure is applied to connect casing joints properly. Combined with cementing, casing stabilizes recently drilled well holes.

Swabbing unit operators use specialized equipment to pull fluid from the well bore so oil or gas can flow on its own pressure.

For information about snubbing services, see the Snubbing Services Operators and Supervisors occupational profile.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Well service equipment crews often work out of central field stations. Field stations are based throughout the province, often in towns or cities near major drilling or production sites.

Specialized services can be requested at any time of the day or night. As a result, well service equipment operators usually work on a 24-hour on-call basis. They do a lot of travelling and often work long hours. They may need to lift heavy items.

Much of the work is outdoors in all kinds of weather. This exposes operators to dirt, dust, noise, and fumes around rigs. The work can be hazardous, making safety a concern for everyone on a rig. Hazards include:

  • Working on wet, slippery rig floors
  • Working near or with heavy tools and moving machinery
  • Being exposed to chemical substances, such as drilling mixture additives
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Well service equipment operators need:

  • Communication skills, to understand and give clear, concise directions
  • Initiative
  • Analytical and decision-making skills
  • Physical strength and stamina
  • Mechanical aptitude and the ability to visualize tools operating underground
  • The ability to work efficiently and effectively under pressure
  • The ability to pay close attention to detail
  • The ability to work well alone and with other people

They should enjoy operating machinery and complex equipment, having clear rules and guidelines for their work, and solving problems.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Well service equipment operators should have a high school diploma. They also need an ability and desire to learn quickly and put their learning into practice. Related education or experience on a drilling or service rig is a definite asset. For more information, see the Drilling Rig Leasehand and Floorhand, Service Rig Personnel, and Rig Technician occupational profiles.

Pump equipment operators often learn on the job and through company training programs. They transport and use materials and gases that may be highly corrosive or poisonous. This is hazardous if incorrectly handled. Therefore, they often need an Alberta Class 1 operator’s licence with air or heavy truck endorsement and no more than 6 demerits.

They should have the following certificates:

  • Petroleum Safety Training (PST)
  • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)
  • Cryogenic Safety
  • Hydrogen Sulfide Awareness (H2S)
  • Blowout Prevention
  • Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG)
  • First Aid

Some employers require acidizing operators to have related post-secondary education. For example, they might want a 2-year diploma or 4-year degree in petroleum engineering.


Related Education

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

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

Well service equipment operators work for contractors in the oil and gas industry. They may start as helpers. After on-the-job training and in-house courses, they may move into operator positions.

Pump equipment operators usually specialize in a single type of operation. With experience, they can advance to field supervisor. A pump equipment operator with leadership skills and knowledge of all types of pumping operations can advance to station manager.

Well service equipment operators are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 8412: Oil and gas well drilling workers and services operators. In Alberta, 80% of people employed in this classification work in the Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction [pdf] industry.

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

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Trends and events affecting overall employment, especially in the Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction industry
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the I142: Oil and Gas Well Drilling Workers and Services Operators occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0.6% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 37 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2020
Oil and gas well drilling and related workers and services 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 $15.00 $50.51 $31.82 $30.01
Overall $20.95 $55.00 $36.52 $36.00
Top $26.00 $75.96 $43.02 $41.50

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.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
ALL INDUSTRIES
Oil & Gas Extraction
Construction

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

45%
45%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

46%
46%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

11%
11%

Vacancy Rate

2%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Engineering and Science Technologies
  • Engineering, Architecture and Related Studies
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC) website: caodc.ca

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

Energy Safety Canada website: www.energysafetycanada.com

Petroleum Services Association of Canada (PSAC) website: www.psac.ca

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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