Oil and gas industry offers opportunity to work where you want

Government reps promote oil jobs in N.L. to next generation

Ashley Fitzpatrick afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com
Published on February 25, 2014

As a fresh university graduate from this province beginning her career in the oil sector, Alison Newell moved to Calgary.

“When I was just starting out, opportunities in  Newfoundland weren’t as plentiful as they are now. Most of my fellow earth science graduates, including myself, had to go elsewhere in order to find a job in the oil and gas industry,” she said, while giving the keynote address at the 2014 Oil and Gas Week launch in St. John’s.

“There are many more opportunities here now for students just coming out of school. You have a choice of where to work, rather than having the decision made for you.”

Newell now has 10 years in and works in St. John’s as a geophysicist with Husky Energy. She said she enjoyed NHL hockey games, skiing in the Rockies and annual trips to the Calgary Stampede, but decided to return home when the opportunity arose.

“My husband and I are both from Newfoundland and we always knew we wanted to move back at some point,” she said.

Newfoundland and Labrador Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalley spoke at the same podium about opportunity for young professionals to establish careers in this province.

He added a plug for the Petroleum Industry Human Resources Committee website (oilandgascareerinfo.ca), with information on how to navigate to favoured oil industry jobs.

“We’ve always had to look outside the province for opportunities and careers, but perhaps we’re into an era — no question — where for the first time in our history now where, I believe, young people — and I have one here at Memorial University, I have another one coming next year —  I firmly believe that they’re going to have a real opportunity to work and live and play right here in Newfoundland and Labrador and not have to look outside this province for a very rewarding career,” he said.

“Our expectation is as industry continues to grow, the demand will grow for these young people to enter into this sector,” he said.

Providing the opportunity to enter into this province’s oil and gas industry is one piece of work. A separate but relevant challenge is finding how to keep the workers within the province.

“Indeed, our graduates are highly sought after by industry and academic institutions around the globe, because of the high quality of our programs,” said Gary Kachanoski, president of Memorial University of Newfoundland.

City of St. John’s Coun. Dave Lane, speaking on behalf of mayor Dennis O’Keefe, promoted the city as a place for skilled workers to settle.

“Speaking to the students that are in the audience today, when you’re looking at where your career can take you, St. John’s is probably one of the most unique and special cities in the world. So you’ve got everything you need right here to have a fantastic life and it’s only getting better,” he said.

A desire to contribute to the future, of the city and the province, was cited by both the day’s keynote speaker, Newell, and later Keith Dalley, a winner of one of four 2014 Oil and Gas Week scholarships, as a reason to work within Newfoundland and Labrador.

“I don’t know if it’s so much about being interested in oil and gas in Newfoundland and Labrador, just the fact that I’m interested in oil and gas and there’s the opportunity to do it here and to live at home and to contribute to the economy of the province, so it’s more about the two just tie together so perfectly for me,” Dalley said.

From Twillingate, and completing his second year in the Fisheries and Marine Institute’s Nautical Science program, he said he is interested in some international travel in the short term.

“But long-term, I would like to come back to Newfoundland and Labrador,” he said.

He said he doesn’t feel there is any kind of consensus amongst students as to whether it is better to stay or go in the long term, saying that decision tends to be a personal one.

“It’s great to have the opportunity to do what you want basically,” he said.   

The three other Oil and Gas Week scholarship winners are: Colin Taylor, Hilary Mercer and Christine Abbott.

Oil and Gas Week (nloilandgasweek.ca) is a joint project of Noia, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, three levels of government and the education sector. It continues until March 1.