Upstream Midstream Downstream – What is the Difference?

Wednesday, October 25th, 2023 and is filed under Oil and Gas Fun Facts, Permian Basin Oil News, Texas Oil and Gas Investing

Upstream Midstream Downstream are terms commonly used in the oil and gas industry to describe different stages of the production and distribution process. Each sector has distinct activities and focuses on specific aspects of the overall oil and gas supply chain.

  1. Upstream:

    • Activities: Upstream refers to the exploration and production (E&P) phase of the oil and gas industry. It involves locating, surveying, drilling, and extracting crude oil and natural gas from underground reservoirs. This includes both onshore and offshore activities.
    • Key Processes: Exploration, reservoir analysis, drilling, well completion, and production.
    • Assets: Upstream assets include oil and gas fields (land and mineral rights), drilling rigs, production platforms, and wells.
    • Challenges: The upstream sector faces challenges related to geological uncertainties, drilling risks, regulatory compliance, and oil and gas price volatility.
  2. Midstream:

    • Activities: Midstream activities involve the transportation, storage, and wholesale marketing of oil and gas. It bridges the gap between the upstream and downstream sectors.
    • Key Processes: Transportation via pipelines, rail, trucks, or ships; storage in tanks or other facilities; and marketing for wholesale distribution.
    • Assets: Midstream assets include pipelines, storage tanks, terminals, and transportation infrastructure.
    • Challenges: Ensuring the safe and efficient movement of large volumes of oil and gas, regulatory compliance, supply chain constraints, and managing logistics. Production increases in the Permian Basin, for example, are a challenge regarding the takeaway capacity of the existing pipeline infrastructure. At times, the takeaway capacity is insufficient for delivering the oil and gas to its destination in a timely manner.
  3. Downstream:

    • Activities: Downstream is the refining and processing phase, where crude oil is transformed into refined products and chemicals. It also includes the distribution and sale of these products to consumers.
    • Key Processes: Refining, petrochemical manufacturing, distribution, and retailing of refined products.
    • Assets: Downstream assets include refineries, petrochemical plants, distribution networks, and retail outlets (gas stations).
    • Challenges: Regulatory compliance, optimizing refining processes, managing supply chains, and responding to changes in worldwide consumer demand.

Key Differences:

  • Focus: Upstream focuses on exploration and extraction, midstream on transportation and storage, and downstream on refining and distribution.
  • Products: Upstream deals with crude oil and natural gas, midstream with the transportation of these resources, and downstream with refined products like gasoline, diesel, and petrochemicals.
  • Assets: The assets in each sector are tailored to their specific functions, such as wells and platforms for upstream, pipelines and storage tanks for midstream, and refineries and distribution networks for downstream.
  • Risk Profile: Upstream is often more exposed to geological and drilling risks, while midstream is concerned with logistics and transportation challenges, and downstream deals with market demand volatility.

Upstream Midstream Downstream Summary

In summary, the upstream, midstream, and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry represent distinct stages in the production and distribution process, each with its own set of activities, assets, and challenges. The collaboration and efficiency of these sectors contribute to the overall functioning of the industry.

Be sure and follow Aresco on LinkedIn!

© Copyright 2023 Aresco, LP. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy | Site by A3K Marketing. Admin Log in

See how much you could save for tax year 2023.