Environmental Issues and Concerns in the Areas where Oil and Energy Projects are Operating:

The potential impact of the activities around an Oil and Gas Production site can be significant.  The impact will depend on factors like the amount of earth disturbed by the drilling of wells.  The size and number of wells drilled can also have a major effect.  The area of land occupied by the operations facilities and the time that the oil and gas project was working the site will have a direct effect on the wildlife and plant life.

Environmental Influences of:

  1. Exploration, surveys, testing and exploratory drilling:

Noise; primary sources would be the noise that earth-moving vehicles make, seismic surveys, drill rig operations and blasting.

Air Quality; emissions of dust thrown up by the earth moving equipment, other vehicles, and surveys will have an influence on the air quality.  Drill rig exhaust will not only affect the quality but also the smell of the air.  Emissions during this phase will not have a big influence on climate change.  The impact will depend on the duration, amount and location of the work.

Cultural Resources; that are buried are unlikely to be hindered.  Resources on the surface might be disturbed by traffic and ground clearing, etc.

Ecological Resources; will be affected minimally during exploration.  Wildlife might be disturbed by seismic surveys.  Surveys done during this time will help developers in placing the site and facilities of the project in a way that will cause a minimum of impact on the surroundings.

  1. Drilling and Development:

Waste and Hazardous Material Management; industrial and solid waste will be generated during the development phase.  Mostly this will not be hazardous.  The waste would likely be taken off-site to be disposed of.

Drilling waste; is another matter because it will include hydraulic fluids, used oil, spilled fuel and much more.  Adverse effects can occur if this hazardous waste is not managed and handled properly.

Health and Safety; drilling and development do have the risk of serious accidents happening and also injuries that are associated with oil and gas production operations.

Water Resources; water quality can degrade because of the increase of sedimentation, salinity, spills, etc.  Water depletion can also become a problem.  During drilling, water is used to keep dust under control, making concrete mixes, and in the drilling wells.  Drilling activities can also affect the flow of surface water.

Infographic by: frack-off.org.uk

There are lots of factors that can have an influence where an oil and gas project is underway.  However, these Energy sector companies have strict methods and processes to keep the influence they have on the environment and surrounding communities.  In certain ways they can also have a positive influence in the community, increasing revenue and helping to better the economy.

Explaining the Midstream and Downstream Sections in the Oil and Gas Industry Production Chain

The Midstream sector of the oil and gas industry is primarily about the transportation of the crude and raw products from where the site where they are extracted to the refineries.  Midstream is sometimes paired together with either the Upstream or Downstream sectors.

The transportation of natural gas and raw oil is a process that is highly technical.  It involves the compression of fluids.  In order to be able to transport the fluids from drilling sites, it needs to be under necessary pressures.  Transportation can be via pipelines and in tankers.

Midstream Sector Responsibilities:

Tanker Sea Commercial Oil Ship Nautical Vessel

Transportation from drilling sites:  The transportation of natural gas and raw oil products, via pipeline or tanker.

Treating raw materials:  Removing all impurities such as hydrogen sulphide of water vapour.

By removing the impurities and compressing the fluid helps to maximize the amounts that can be transported and therefore also the efficiency and profits of companies.  This is a very important aspect in the oil and gas sector of the industry.

Once the oil and natural gas have been transported through the midstream section, there are some more processes and transformation it must undergo before it can be sold.

Downstream at the refinery:

Final Processing:  The crude oil is processed into finished products, for instance, lubricants, synthetic rubber, fertilizers, plastics, asphalt, pesticides, heating oil, and pharmaceuticals.  This is also where crude oil is converted into forms that are usable in everyday life, like, gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, propane and even antifreeze.

Distribution of the final product:  Distributing the products to their final destination in the market.

Marketing:  Downstream is also the place where companies and customers meet and where supply meets demand.  To make sure everyone knows what products are carried and available, marketing these products comes into play.

Retail outlets like gas stations, is part of the downstream section.  The efficiency of the other sections can have an influence on the price of products.

Upstream: The Starting Point in the Chain of Oil and Gas Energy Production

Upstream is where it all starts.  The Upstream oil sector is where the exploration and the production of products in this industry take place.  Exploration includes the search for all potential natural gas fields, and for all potential underwater and underground crude oil findings.

Basically, crude oil is a hydrocarbon mixture that is formed from living organisms; therefore, it is also a fossil fuel.  A big amount of organic matter will be needed in the supplying of the necessary carbon and hydrogen atoms.  You will only find this organic material buried beneath the surface where oxygen cannot destroy it.

The same process happens inside the ocean; organisms die, sink to the bottom and accumulate there.  With time, the remains break down into hydrocarbons, and there they wait to be mined.

This is where the search, exploration, and mining come into play in regard to the oil and gas industry.  You first have to find these rich fields before you can start to retrieve it.

Steps in the Upstream sector of the Oil and Gas Production Chain:

  1. Geological Surveys: A team of geologists will be dispatched to conduct surveys over a potential area.  Underground, the crude oil is typically found in a cavern, also called a “trap”, “source” or “reservoir”.  When surveys and seismic data determine that a cavern does exist, they need to measure the size of the cavern and then construct a 3D map of what is underground.
  2. Determining if the Reserve will be viable: An estimate needs to be formed of how much oil the reserve holds.  Scientists examine seismic information and models to determine this, the size of the reservoir. porousness and saturation features are part of the variables they will put together. Their conclusions will give different results and an average of these results will become the consensus of the amount of oil located in that reservoir.
  3. Drilling: The drilling of exploratory wells to find the best sites for drilling operations, and then operating these wells to recover the crude oil and natural gas bringing it to the surface, is the next step in the chain.

Upstream are basically the searching and finding of oil and gas fields through exploration, and then determining the viability of the find through drilling Exploratory wells.  Then the process of bringing the find to the surface can start.