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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?

Events and training

Human Factors Safety Critical Task Analysis Training - May 2019

15-05-2019
A 2-day training course addressing Human Factors issues in COMAH Safety Reports, teaching delegates how to carry out Human Factors Safety Critical Task Reviews.

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Oil and Gas Mergers & Acquisition: Acquiring and Divesting Assets and Companies - May 2019

20-05-2019
This 3-day training course focuses on integrating an understanding of Mergers & Acquisition (M&A) activity trends, the process involved in conducting M&A activity and and the skills that requires. This includes presentations, case studies, exercises and discussions.

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Portfolio management of oil and gas assets - June 2019

4-06-2019
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.

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Financing challenges for a transforming energy industry

5-06-2019
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.

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

11-06-2019
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...

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Technical guidance publications

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...

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Human and organisational factors in end of service life and decommissioning

2019
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...

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HM 8. Continuous density measurement

2019
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 stablecrude oi...

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

2018
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...

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

2018
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...

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