The three major sectors in the industry (upstream, midstream and downstream) do not explain themselves on first sight. For people not familiar with the industry, the terms may be very strange to them. These components basically simplify the oil industry by structuring the complexities into simpler categories. From production to its end-product, oil passes through a series of stages. These stages are grouped into upstream, midstream and downstream.
The upstream is the farthest industry from the final consumers. The industry finds and produces crude oil and natural gas. It is sometimes known as the exploration and production (E&P) sector. It is the most technical part of the whole process. The upstream petroleum industry includes exploration and production companies as well as hundreds of associated service businesses such as seismic and drilling contractors, service rig operators, engineering firms and various scientific, technical, service and supply companies.
As the name suggests, the midstream is the connection between the other two industries. The midstream industry processes, stores, markets and transports commodities such as crude oil, natural gas, natural gas liquids (NGLs, mainly ethane, propane, and butane) and sulphur. The midstream provides the vital link between the far-flung petroleum producing areas and the population centers where most consumers are located. The downstream industry is the closest to consumers. It includes petroleum products distributors, retail outlets and natural gas distribution companies.
The downstream industry touches every province and territory-wherever consumers are located-and provides thousands of products such as gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, heating oil, asphalt, lubricants, synthetic rubber, plastics, fertilizers, antifreeze, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, natural gas, and propane.
As lucrative as the oil and gas is, many people seem to have a disinterest for the industry. For these people, the industry lacks a stem of engrossing details. From research, the reason for this perception for most people is the fact that there seems to be a typical use of very technical terms in disseminating information relating to the industry.