Every industry may have to contend with some level of disconnect from time to time. The oil & gas industry is no different. However, oil & gas has created a fairly regulated system in which initial operations find a pretty straightforward path to a final destination, better known as midstream oil and gas. It is through midstream processes that the entire industry comes full-circle with little to no interruption.
As one might conclude, though, in order to understand what ‘midstream’ means, it is important to gain a better hold what all the building blocks of the oil & gas industry are.
In a nutshell (albeit a VERY simplified one), the oil & gas industry breaks down as follows:
• UPSTREAM is where the drilling happens; this is the exploration & production stage of things
• DOWNSTREAM is where the refined materials are distributed for commercial, residential, and industrial applications, a.k.a., everything the initial drilling was done for
Midstream bridges the gap between these two elements. It is where the unrefined materials like crude oil are allocated for processing, transportation, and storage. Companies specializing in midstream oil & gas processes are a key factor in how well the industry runs. However, it is not hyperbole to say that for many in oil & gas, midstream means everything.
Because midstream is based in moving, storing, and processing raw materials, state-of-the-art technology is unquestionably required to keep things in check. Few industries require as much real-time monitoring to ensure safety to employees, the environment, and the communities in which they are located. It is because of these safety measures that the oil & gas industry has been able to maintain a stout safety record. The guiding documentation for the industry as a whole is ISO-20815 related specifically to petroleum, petrochemical, and natural gas industries — production assurance and reliability management.
For all that is in place to keep midstream services effective, there are some critical hurdles that must be regularly dealt with. For example:
- Obstacles in midstream services can include everything from rough terrain to geopolitical matters. Each makes the journey between Point A to Point B much tougher to navigate.
- As noted before, real-time monitoring is important to maintain safety. This is why testing of materials is a constant, as is the need to keep materials moving under the right conditions.
A particularly important hurdle that bears noting includes the lasting effects transporting oil & gas may have on the environment. Local, state, and federal agencies have banded together to make sure that the oil & gas industry meet the strictest of standards when accessing, storing, and transporting raw/refined materials. To combat possible issues, midstream oil and gas companies have invested heavily in their environmental remediation personnel & processes. They want to be able to know what is going on at all times with the raw/refined materials with which they work. Moreover, they want to be able to act fast if a problem arises. Far too often in the past, remediation efforts were often handled outside of the midstream company, leading to delays in action. By having this personnel readily available & as part of the real-time monitoring, work can be done to contain an issue should one present itself.
However, it bears noting that remediation is not to be considered the ONLY protocol midstream companies have in place. In many respects, it is a failsafe to be tapped if needed. The heavy lifting, so to speak, lies with their diverse & multi-disciplined engineering divisions. Their job is to design processes that take into consideration any, and all, things regarding possible adverse issues as a preventative measure so as to plan around them rather than leaving the team on the ground to react to something unexpected.
In the end, the biggest takeaway about midstream oil & gas is that it’s important to see how it works in tandem with both upstream & downstream parts of the process. When all runs smoothly, these three elements combine in such a way so as to show an industry that is forthright in doing a job well-done with safety as the important underscoring element.
Are your midstream oil and gas operations in need of an update? Connect with us so we can show you that there is, indeed, a better way.