Energy & Infrastructure

Midstream 101: What is “Midstream?”

Staff Reports

Midstream101-v2Imagine someone interrupting while you are watching House of Cards on your iPad. (Why would someone do that? They should know better.)

Anyway, you might say you were interrupted midstream. Get it?

Or, maybe you are fly fishing on a pristine river in Colorado. If you caught a state record trout (c’mon, we’re imagining here) an equal distance between the shorelines you might say you caught the fish midstream.

In the oil and gas industry midstream means something a little different, but not entirely different. Midstream is the “middle” part of the natural gas value chain. Our industry is generally split into three categories of operation: upstream, midstream and downstream. But what does all that mean exactly?

  • Upstream (also known as producers) is where the drilling and well operations happen. It’s the part of our industry that operates the wells and produces the oil and natural gas that power our industry, economy and country.
  • Midstream companies operate the pipeline and gathering or transmission facilities that move the gas from the well (upstream) to our homes and businesses (downstream). Midstream operations also treat the product, remove water or waste products, compress it and get it ready for various markets downstream.
  • Downstream (also known as distribution) moves the clean gas to you to heat your home, provide a hot shower and cook your meals. Other downstream oil and gas customers can also include power-plants, factories, export facilities and other industries.

The graphic below shows where midstream fits into this natural gas value chain:

Over the next few weeks we will provide you the basics about the different parts of midstream operations in the natural gas industry: transportation, gathering, processing, compression, marketing and more.

We want you to understand how we operate and how we work to ensure public safety and environmental excellence every day. Plus, you’ll really impress your friends when you breakdown the differences between a processing facility and a compressor station! Up next week: The Dictionary.