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: North Sea oil and gas and the price of oil

“More than 42.3 billion barrels oil equivalent (bboe) have been produced from the UKCS [United Kingdom Continental Shelf] and 10-20 bboe are estimated to remain. Despite the low levels of exploration activity in recent years, encouraging discoveries have recently been made in the West of Shetland an...

Read more »

Oil and Gas Authority launches massive public data release

The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has unveiled what is believed to be one of the largest ever single open releases of data with the launch of the nation’s first UK oil and gas national data repository (NDR).Freely-available to all, the NDR is an online platform which is home to 130 terabytes of well, ...

Read more »

New reality could unlock £200bn of future business opportunities for UK oil and gas

A sustained focus on cost and efficiencies with ongoing uncertainty in commodity markets marks the new reality for the UK’s offshore oil and gas sector, according to Oil and Gas UK’s (OGUK) Business Outlook 2019. The report into industry performance finds continued uncertainty in commodity markets i...

Read more »

International Petroleum Week 2019: Defining the future for the oil and gas industry

Welcome to the International Petroleum (IP) Week 2019 review, which highlights the key issues, messages and takeaways from IP Week 2019. This year’s conference was held on 26–28 February, and addressed the theme ‘Defining the future for the oil and gas industry’.Delegates heard from an impressive in...

Read more »

UK oil and gas production rises to 1.7mn boe/d in 2018

Oil and gas production in the UK increased by more than 4% in 2018, averaging 1.7mn boe/d, according to new report from the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA). The Projections of UK oil and gas production and expenditure report also estimates that UK oil and gas production over the period 2016–2050 will be...

Read more »

Events and training

EI Nigeria Evening Session

Energy Institute Nigeria, Evening Session

Read more »

Portfolio management of oil and gas assets - June 2019

This 3-day training course addresses portfolio management from theoretical and practical perspectives applicable to assets from along the oil and gas supply chain. The skills and industry insight provided by the course will be of value to corporate, portfolio and asset-based decision-makers.

Read more »

Financing challenges for a transforming energy industry

Attend to discuss the latest challenges and financial solutions that will manage risks and facilitate the development of the future energy mix to meet consumers’ requirements.

Read more »

Site visit to the UK's largest biomass project in the education sector

In 2014, following two years of planning an 800kW Hertz woodchip boiler was installed at the school, together with 3 cascading back-up gas boilers, to replace aged oil-fired boilers.

Read more »

Oil and Gas Industry Fundamentals 4-day training - June 2019

This 4-day course is a leading course presented by an industry expert and practitioner. Delegates will cover the key sectors of the oil and gas industry from exploration through to fuel retailing. They will learn about the industry value chain covering conventional and unconventional resources, dril...

Read more »

Technical guidance publications

Guidance for corrosion management in oil and gas production and processing

*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 »

Human and organisational factors in end of service life and decommissioning

This document is freely available to all registered users of this site.Health, safety, wellbeing and performance of those working on sites, both on and offshore, undergoing decommissioning can be adversely affected by changes in the nature of the tasks performed and the conditions under which they a...

Read more »

HM 8. Continuous density measurement

Accuracy in the measurement of density is essential for bulk volume measurements so that the mass may be determined. Mass may be required for reporting or for other qualitative purposes. This publication covers the continuous determination of the density of liquids and gases including stable crude o...

Read more »

Guidelines for injection of corrosion inhibitors in oil and gas production systems

This first edition technical publication provides guidance for the injection of corrosion inhibitors for corrosion control in oil and gas production systems. It builds on the HSE research report RR1023 Reliable corrosion inhibition in the oil and gas industry, and draws on expert industry experience...

Read more »

Guidelines for offshore oil and gas installations that are not permanently attended

This guidance updates and revises Guidelines for offshore oil and gas installations that are not permanently attended ('NPAI guidelines'), first published in 2010.The aim of this document is to provide all those involved in designing and operating such installations with guidance on how to balance t...

Read more »

Visit our publishing site »

You may also be interested in