Canada's oil and gas industry could lose about 3% of its workforce by 2015 due to "persistently low natural gas prices," according to a new report. However, the jobs outlook varies greatly across industry sectors.

The Canadian industry overall will need to fill a minimum of 9,500 jobs by 2015, according to the report by the Petroleum Human Resources (HR) Council of Canada, "Canada's Oil and Gas Labour Market Outlook to 2015."

Between now and 2015, growth in certain operations and age-related attrition across the industry will offset most job losses and, in fact, will contribute to increased overall hiring needs.

"This is a complex labor story," said Cheryl Knight, CEO of the Petroleum HR Council. "Hiring will increase, but total number of jobs will remain relatively flat. Certain sectors and operations will add jobs, while others will lose some positions. And employee turnover is the wildcard that could have recruiters working to fill hundreds of additional job openings over the next four years.

For example, the oil and gas services sector, although impacted by commodity price volatility, will still need to fill about 5,400 jobs by 2015. The exploration and production (E&P) sector, hardest hit by gas prices, may see some workforce contraction but will also experience skill and experience gaps as it loses workers to retirements and turnover.

By 2015, employment in the oilsands sector is projected to increase by 29% over 2011 levels, or about 5,850 jobs. The pipeline sector will add about 530 jobs over the same period. Both sectors will also need to do significant hiring to replace retiring workers and for turnover, the report said.

"At a more granular level, we're seeing high demand for, and reduced supply of, skilled workers in specific occupations, many of which are unique to the oil and gas industry," Knight said. "Retirements are the greatest cause of this growing, and alarming, skill and experience gap. The technical capabilities and knowledge of retiring, experienced workers are just not easily replaced by new entrants."

The report includes labor demand projections for 38 core occupations in Canada's oil and gas industry within four industry sectors (E&P, oilsands, oil and gas services and pipelines). Analysis is also provided for key operating regions in Western Canada (British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan) as well as for the rest of Canada. The report is available for purchase at

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