This website uses cookies to help us improve your user experience and create reports. The cookies collect information in an anonymous form.
Please visit our privacy policy page to learn more about the cookies used on this website and how to change current settings if you do not agree. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies.

Oil and natural gas remain the world's leading fuels, accounting for nearly 60% of global energy consumption

Oil and natural gas are formed from decaying plant and animal remains that became buried within layers of the earth and subjected to heat and pressure over millions of years. These two types of fossil fuels have been the world’s primary sources of energy for decades. They have enabled advances in quality of life and in all sectors of the economy, from residential lighting, cooking and heating to transportation and industrial manufacturing. However, the low carbon transition has put the oil and gas industry under pressure as these fuels are two of the main sources of greenhouse gases. The industry is associated with environmental disasters such as oil spills, and the prices of the two fuels – especially oil – are highly volatile with fluctuations directly impacted by political and socioeconomic events. Nevertheless, more than 100 countries currently produce oil and/or natural gas and the two fuels are expected to maintain their importance across the energy sector for many decades to come.

The production of oil and natural gas are often coupled as the two are typically found together in nature. The industry is commonly divided into three main operational sectors: upstream, midstream and downstream. The upstream sector incorporates the exploration and extraction of crude oil and natural gas reserves, while midstream focuses on transporting and storing the extracted products. The oil and natural gas then reach downstream processing facilities where they are refined, distributed and sold to the end customer. The product that reaches the end customer can take a number of forms including natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), petrol, diesel fuel, jet fuel, heating oil, kerosene, asphalt and other petrochemicals. Several trends are currently impacting the future outlook of the oil and gas industry. The use of natural gas has increased across all economic sectors over the last few decades since natural gas – often viewed as a bridge fuel towards a low carbon energy system – burns cleaner than oil or coal for electricity generation. The switch to natural gas is becoming more widespread with the proliferation of the technology to liquify it (to LNG) for transport. Developments in shale gas and oil production have also greatly increased supply in the US, which has had implications in global oil, and increasingly LNG markets. Given a growing world population and continued demand for oil and gas products, discoveries of new deposits and advances in production technology will determine availability of supplies. Developments in carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) will also impact the position of oil and natural gas in the long-term energy mix.

You can further explore the three sectors by clicking the links below:

Learn more about oil and gas extraction by exploring records published on our Energy Matrix.

For the latest news and articles on exploration and production read Petroleum Review.

Find the latest oil and gas consultations and policies in our Policy Milestones Calendar.

What's new?

Energy insight: Methane emissions reduction – Part 1: Oil and gas

13-09-2019
For information on methane emissions related to coal, see Energy Insight - Methane Emissions reduction – Part 2 – Coal Why is methane a problem for the climate?Methane (CH4) is the third most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere (after water vapour and carbon dioxide (CO2)). Any metha...

Read more »

BP deploys continuous methane measurement for new major oil and gas projects

10-09-2019
BP has unveiled plans to deploy continuous measurement of methane emissions in its future BP-operated oil and gas processing projects.Continuous measurement, including instruments such as gas cloud imaging (GCI), will be rolled out to all new major projects worldwide. The technology has also been te...

Read more »

UK oil and gas industry publishes blueprint for net zero

3-09-2019
The UK’s offshore oil and gas industry has outlined its contribution to the UK and Scottish government net zero emissions ambitions as part of a  blueprint showing what the sector could look like in the future. Roadmap to 2035: A Blueprint for net zero sets out five key themes requiring in...

Read more »

UK offshore oil and gas operating costs and expenditure remain stable

28-08-2019
Operating costs, efficiency and expenditure on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) remained stable in 2018, according to a new report by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA).Delivered for the first time in an interactive online dashboard, findings from the UKCS Operating Costs 2018 report incl...

Read more »

Workforce stabilisation sets foundation for oil and gas industry’s bright future

22-08-2019
Total employment supported by the UK offshore oil and gas sector is now back in line with industry’s long-term trend, according to new research published by Oil and Gas UK (OGUK).OGUK’s 2019 Workforce Report, which provides insight into the employment landscape across the UK oil and gas sector,...

Read more »

Events and training

IEA's World Energy Investment Report 2019

19-09-2019
The International Energy Agency’s annual benchmark for tracking energy investment, World Energy Investment 2019 provides a full picture of today’s capital flows and what they might mean for tomorrow’s energy sector It assesses whether the frameworks and strategi...

Read more »

Oil & Gas Fundamentals Awareness - September 2019

24-09-2019
This 2-day course provides an introduction to the oil & gas industry. Delegates will learn about the key sectors of the oil and gas industry from exploration through to fuel retailing. The course comprehensively covers all aspects of the industry value chain including formation of oil & gas,...

Read more »

Asset Integrity Management

2-10-2019
Approaches to upstream asset major accident hazard management with learnings from inside and outside of the oil and gas industry.

Read more »

East Mediterranean: The New Natural Gas Frontier

7-10-2019
Learn more about the latest hotspot for hydrocarbon exploration & production activity. 

Read more »

Economics of the Oil and Gas Industry

9-10-2019
A 2-day introduction to the economics of the oil and gas industry. This course is suitable for students who are new to the oil and gas industry.

Read more »

Technical guidance publications

HM 54. Guidelines for the management of measurement for the upstream oil and gas industry

2019
More companies are electing to employ third parties to manage their legal and commercial measurement obligations and to undertake allocation of individual fields from commingled streams. Therefore the issue of management of measurement is becoming increasingly more important.This second edition high...

Read more »

HM 78. Guidelines for meter selection for the upstream oil and gas industry

2019
This publication has been produced as a high-level guideline on meter selection by those involved in the upstream oil and gas industry. The selection of the correct meter or primary element along with the appropriate secondary instrumentation is fundamental to the performance and/or reliability of a...

Read more »

HM 60. Guidelines for the auditing of measurement systems for oil and gas streams

2019
This publication has been produced as a high level guideline on auditing for use by all of those involved in the measurement process in the upstream oil and gas industry.Measurement system auditing is a critical activity for all operators producing hydrocarbons to ensure financial interests are prot...

Read more »

Guidance for corrosion management in oil and gas production and processing

2019
*This publication has a large file size, please allow extra time for the PDF to download*This second edition of the EI's Guidance on corrosion management in oil and gas production and processing provides general principles and essential engineering guidance and requirements for improving corrosion m...

Read more »

HM 96. Guidelines for the allocation of fluid streams in oil and gas production

2019
Allocation is a term used to describe the system by which ownership of oil, gas, gas liquids and produced water is determined and tracked from the point of production to a point of sale or discharge. Allocation systems therefore have a direct impact on revenue and often involve several business area...

Read more »

Visit our publishing site »

You may also be interested in