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Snubbing Services (All Levels)


Snubbing services refers to the use of snubbing equipment to insert or remove drill pipe, tubing or specialized equipment into or from a well, when blowout preventers are closed while containing well pressure. Snubbing services are specialized functions of oil and gas well life cycle maintenance that requires working with a well under pressure.

Snubbing services - Assistant Operator, Operator 1, Operator 2, Operator 3, Supervisor 1 and Supervisor 2, are available for certification under the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Act.

  • Assistant Operator –provides support and assists with the pre and post job snubbing operations. This is an entry-level position.
  • Operator 1 –operates in well environments where the shut-in pressure is less than 10 MPa and the wellbore gas or fluid is sweet. Snubbing services involve single zone workovers and completions, including jobs where the tubing can be moved through the well without staging couplings or tool joints.
  • Operator 2 –operates in more complex medium pressure well environments that are sweet or sour, where the shut-in pressure is between 10 and 21 MPa. Snubbing services involve sand cleanouts, lubricating, fishing, multizone and/or dual string completions.
  • Operator 3 –operates in even more complex high-pressure well environments. The gas or fluid may be sweet, sour or critical sour. They can work on wells with a shut-in pressure greater than 21 MPa. Snubbing services may involve operations using multiple blow-out preventers.
  • Supervisor 1 –oversees operations in medium pressure well environments, sweet or sour, with shut-in pressure of less than 21 MPa. The supervisor ensures a healthy and safe work environment while following industry practices and implementing environmental policies. This position is responsible for managing wellsite performance.
  • Supervisor 2 –oversees operations in high pressure (greater than 21 MPa) well environments that may include critical sour gas and fluids. Supervision of the snubbing crew, management of wellsite performance and worksite safety are key responsibilities. Detailed definitions for each of the branches can be found in the Snubbing Services designated occupation regulation.

For more information regarding tasks and activities, please review the Occupation Regulation.


Working Conditions

Snubbing services are conducted 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. Work is primarily outdoors, sometimes in adverse weather conditions. The work environment around a well site can be noisy and dirty. Safety is most important, as work is performed on wells that are under pressure and with hydrogen sulphide present. Work is physically demanding, requiring the lifting of tools and equipment up to 25 kilograms.


Working in Alberta

A certificate is not required to work as snubbing services operators and supervisors in Alberta. This is a designated occupation and participation is voluntary.

Job skills, competencies and standards of performance for snubbing services have been defined and approved under the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Act.

An interested individual must complete the online Occupational Certificate - Credentials Application and submit it.

The application must include the non-refundable application fee as part of the application process, and a copy of an individual's petroleum competency program certificate, managed by Energy Safety Canada.

Individuals possessing a valid Alberta Journeyman Certificate, an Alberta Occupational Certificate or a document indicating that the individual holds a certificate that is recognized as equivalent to an Alberta trade or occupational certificate, are eligible to receive a Blue Seal Certificate business credential upon completing the necessary requirements.  


Employment Advancement

Snubbing services operators and supervisors are employed by contractors in the upstream petroleum industry. Individuals usually start at the entry-level position of assistant operator. As your work experience and competencies increase, these individuals may become operators at a higher level with advancement to supervisor positions.

Certified Alberta snubbing services supervisors who have the supervisory and management competencies required by industry, may apply for an Achievement in Business Competencies Blue Seal online.

Snubbing services is part of the larger National Occupational Classification 8232 oil and gas well drillers, well services, well testing and related workers. Over 17,500 Albertans are employed in this general occupational group. 

The salary range is $60,000 to $180,000 annually, depending on experience.


Occupational Certification Based on Recognized Credential 

An individual acquires the necessary competencies through on-the-job training. Formal training is not provided. Work experience hours/months do not apply and are not required for certification.

Competencies are assessed by demonstration on the job according to standards set by the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board.

Advanced Education has entered into an agreement with the Petroleum Labour Market Information (PetroLMI) Division of Enform to recognize the competency assessment process of the Council's petroleum competency program.

This competency assessment process is monitored and audited by Apprenticeship and Industry Training to assure that standards are met as approved by the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board.

To qualify for an Alberta Occupational Certificate based on completion of industry-established competencies, a person must:

    • There are no entrance requirements for snubbing services however the Occupational Committee encourages individuals to obtain their high school diploma to meet employer’s requirements for employment and future advancement.

Student loans, grants, scholarships and other financial assistance may be available. For more information see Financial Assistance, visit an Apprenticeship and Industry Training office or call toll-free to 1-800-248-4823.