Difference Between Upstream & Midstream & Downstream Activities in Oil and Gas Industry

The oil and gas industry is usually divided into three major sectors: upstream, midstream and downstream.

Upstream Activities

The Upstream activities sector include the searching and extraction of underground crude oil and natural gas , drilling exploratory wells, and subsequently drilling and operating the wells that recover and bring the crude oil and/or raw natural gas to the surface. 
In the petroleum industry, locating underground or underwater oil reserves characterizes the upstream process. Additionally, the upstream process in this industry involves bringing oil and gas to the surface. Extraction wells represent an example of a structure operating in this stage in the process. The upstream stage in the production process may also manifest itself as a supplier providing raw materials to manufacturers or other businesses that ultimately process the materials.

Midstream Activities

The midstream sector involves the transportation (by pipeline, rail, barge, oil tanker or truck), storage, and wholesale marketing of crude or refined petroleum products. Pipelines and other transport systems can be used to move crude oil from production sites to refineries and deliver the various refined products to downstream distributors.
The midstream operations are often taken to include some elements of the upstream and downstream sectors. For example, the midstream sector may include natural gas processing plants that purify the raw natural gas as well as removing and producing elemental sulfur and natural gas liquids (NGL) as finished end-products.

Downstream Activities

The downstream stage in the production process involves processing the materials collected during the upstream stage into a finished product. The downstream stage further includes the actual sale of that product to other businesses, governments or private individuals. The type of end user will vary depending on the finished product. Regardless of the industry involved, the downstream process has direct contact with customers through the finished product.
In the oil and gas industry, the downstream process consists of converting crude oil into other products and then selling those products to customers. Thus, oil refineries represent structures that operate within the downstream process.

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"Midstream". En.wikipedia.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 16 Feb. 2017.
"The Definitions Of "Upstream" And "Downstream" In The Production Process". Smallbusiness.chron.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 16 Feb. 2017.
"Upstream (Petroleum Industry)". En.wikipedia.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 16 Feb. 2017.