Differences between Upstream, Midstream & Downstream in Oil & Gas | Upstream

The oil and gas industry is massive.  There are a multitude of different businesses and jobs that must be preformed to get the oil and gas from under the ground to the consumer.  Luckily this industry can be broken into three chronological sectors; upstream, midstream and  downstream.

So what is the upstream sector? 

 Upstream is commonly known as the exploration and production (E&P) section.  It covers all activities related to searching for, recovering and producing crude oil and/or natural gas from underground or underwater fields.  This sector covers drilling of exploratory wells and subsequently drilling and operating the wells that recover and bring the crude oil/or raw gas to the surface


  • Conducting the geological and geophysical (G&G) surveys required to explore possible sites 
  • Includes searching for potential underground or underwater crude oil and  natural gas fields 
  • Involves obtaining leases and permissions from the land owners to drill
  • Conduct geological and geophysical (G&G) surveys required to explore  
  • G&G surveys can be uncertain so drilling one or more exploratory well may happen, which can become very costly


  • Being as efficient and cost effective as possible with materials, time & labor in the recovery of the oil and gas. 
  • Gathering and short term storage of the oil and gas
  • Plug and abandonment, which marks the end of a well, can be anywhere from a few months to decades later, depending on the sizeof the underground/water field

The business side of the upstream section is complex and risky.  It is truly a high risk, high reward situation. It is greatly affected by outside forces like political instabilities in the US or abroad, international conflicts, and even seasonal weather patterns. This sector is highly regulated by governments and environmental entities.  The technology is continuously growing & changing because of these regulations.  The oil & gas industry is always looking for hardworking, skilled workers in all fields to keep up with these changes. 

The upstream sector is arguably the most complex of the up, mid and downstream sectors. However, the boundaries between the three sectors can become blurred & not clearly defined.




Posted on Sep 16, 2014 by Croft Productions

Croft Productions

For nearly three decades, Croft Production Systems, Inc. has served customers in the oil and gas business. Our turnkey operation is specialized and streamlined, setting us apart in the marketplace. We partner with our customers to ensure we meet all of their quality, delivery, and cost specifications. Ongoing and effective customer communication is at the core of who we are and how we do business.
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