The oil and gas sector is one of the massive sectors in the world, and has a vast supply chain for all the necessary activities. As we have already discussed the Upstream sector in the previous blog, let’s understand the midstream section.
As you already know, the supply chain of oil and gas is divided into three zones or sectors – Upstream, Midstream, Downstream.
Upstream majorly comprises the exploration, drilling, and production tasks. This is an important topic in the oil and gas courses for mechanical engineers.
What does midstream comprise?
This segment or zone (Midstream) in the Oil and Gas supply chain involves the transportation, storage and marketing of various oil and gas products. Transportation modes can vary from small connector pipelines to massive cargo ships making trans-ocean crossings, depending on the commodity transferred and distance covered.
This segment holds a major place in oil and gas training courses online.
The major companies that are a part of the midstream are into the following segments:
Processes of midstream
The first step in the midstream sector is the collection of oil and gas produced in the upstream sector.
The collected oil is then moved through a web or series of the pipeline, having a small diameter, connected directly to a central location.
When it comes to gathering natural gas, the process varies from the oil collection process. The gas cannot be stored at or near the well; therefore, it needs to be purified and processed to remove the water and other impurities. Once all the impurities are removed, then they can be sent through large diameter pipelines.
Next is field processing. It is the first phase of oil and gas processing.
During field processing, surface units need to be installed to carry out the following activities:
- Compute the production rate of the oil, gas and water that is produced from the reservoir
- Separation of the oil, gas, and water from each other
- removal of impurities from the crude oil or gas for the subsequent process or sale
- Storage of the Crude or gas temporarily, until it is ready to be moved to the next process
The above process of separation of oil and gas into smaller components or fractions is known as fractionation. After fractionation, the composition of the oil and gas varies.
The separated NGLs (natural gas liquids) can be used to blend components in a refinery and used as fuel or feedstock to manufacture petrochemicals.
After the fractionation process, the treated oil and gas should be transported through a complex transportation and distribution system either for storage or further processing.
The most used and safest method to transport crude oil is pipeline transportation. Even shipping crude oil through truck and rail, concerning the timing and close alternative locations, is also flexible.
For transporting natural gas, large diameter pipelines must be used because natural gas flows at a much higher pressure than crude oil.
After transportation, the next step in the midstream sector activities is storage.
The methods used to store natural gas are very different from storing crude oil and refined products.
Due to the high pressure of the natural gas, it is kept underground until it is ready to be delivered to market.
These processes are a crucial part of the midstream sector. In the next blog, we will discuss the downstream sector in detail. If you are interested in the Oil and gas domain and are looking for a job-oriented course after graduation, check our online course for piping engineering .
by Debashree P
Debashree is an Aeronautical engineer by education and a curious researcher by passion. She is passionate about engineering and technology. She is an avid technology writer who has a knack for developing content for websites, newsletters, blogs, articles, advertising and marketing materials based on the requirements. Technologies of her interest include Aviation, Oil & Gas and AI.