Oil and Gas Industry Sectors


The Three Primary Sectors of The Oil and Gas Industry

The process by which crude oil becomes petrol isn’t quite as simple as some might think. Refining oil into its final form as fuel can be a toilsome and tedious endeavor. Within the oil/gas production industry; there are three primary oil and gas industry sectors, each with their own unique purpose: the upstream phase, the midstream phase, and the downstream phase. The upstream phase entails searching for subterranean gas and oil fields, building exploratory oil rigs to determine the merits of the particular area, and then drilling for the crude oil and bring it to the surface. The midstream sector is responsible for the transportation of oil from the rigs to the storage and refining facilities, storage, and wholesale marketing of crude oil. Crude oil can be transported in a variety of different ways; via pipelines, tanker ships, rail, and trucks. It may or may not be stored for a period of time until it moves on to be refined- whether or not it is stored hinges mostly on the intended application of the oil. Some companies specialize in the sale of crude oil to other manufacturers. Lastly; the downstream component deals with the refining of crude oil, the purification of natural gas, and the sale and distribution of the finished product.

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What Is Oil and How Is It Made

Establishing what oil truly is and how it is made is an interesting yet often ignored tidbit of information. While it may sound odd and peculiar, oil actually consists primarily of the remains of dead organisms like plankton and plants. Before they died, these creatures soaked up the energy from the sun and stored it in the form of carbon molecules. Eventually they died and their remains sank to the bottom of the ocean floor, forming sedimentary layers over thousands of years. Heat and pressure would rise, pushing the many layers deeper and closer together. The result could be either crude oil or natural gas, depending on the amount of pressure and heat that impacted the area. Lighter pressure and heat produced crude oil. Greater heat and pressure created natural gas. It is generally more common for natural gas to consist of dead botanical organisms.

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Discovering Oil and Gas

Discovering these natural gas and oil fields is extremely complex and requires a rather copious amount of work. Geologists can study and analyze aerial photographs from satellites and/or land surveys to determine if a particular area has the potential to hold substantial amounts of oil or gas. If they judge that it might be a good source; they will use machinery to send vibrations through the ground, and use geophones to listen to the vibrations and read the seismic lines displayed. The information acquired from that procedure is usually a reliable indicator of the probable wealth of the oil field. Once they decide to proceed to conduct preliminary surveys of the land, they will build exploratory rigs to drill beneath the surface and provide the first samples of oil and/or gas from the newfound site. In order to do this, workers must treat the land or ocean floor so that it will be suitable for drilling. The surface has to be cleared and leveled, and it is key that there is a readily available source of water nearby as it is used frequently in the drilling process. It is also necessary to have a reserve pit, which is essentially just an area in which the engineers operating the drill can store the rock and mud left behind as a result of the drilling. Several holes are dug that will be used by the rig and other machinery, and it is a common practice to create pockets for the engineers and their equipment to use as a workspace. The holes are usually created by a truck or some other smaller vehicle, rather than the actual rig itself. Before they finally bring in the drilling rig, the holes are lined with piping to ensure a clear path for the drill. Unfortunately, in many cases the best gas and oil fields are located in extremely remote parts of the world; so delivering the many different pieces of heavy machinery can be time and consuming and expensive. Massive trucks, helicopters, and barges are the typical means by which the equipment arrives at the drill site.

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