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.