Midstream

The midstream petroleum industry links upstream activities with the downstream companies that will sell the products to consumers. The midstream industry gathers, processes, stores, markets and transports oil and by products, natural gas and natural gas liquids. Midstream also includes the sales and marketing of refined petroleum products to wholesalers, industrial and commercial customers.

Pipelines    Upgraders and Natural Gas Processing Plants    Liquefied Natural Gas Facilities


In Canada, transmission pipeline companies are a major part of the midstream petroleum industry, along with oil sands upgrading and oil and gas storage.
 
Several methods of transportation are used to move these products to markets all across Canada. The logistics network used is a complex system of pipelines, ships, railways and trucks to get them to-and-from the refineries and ultimately to the end-users.
 
In Canada, 97% of natural gas and petroleum products are transported by pipelines.  However, transporting crude oil by rail or truck is typically more economically viable for small volumes over shorter distances or getting product to hard-to-reach communities. 
 
The railroad network throughout Canada for instance has rail lines running to, or close to, most oil refinery and shipping terminal destinations 
 

 

Pipelines 

Canada has more than 700,000 kilometres of pipeline transporting hydrocarbons, mostly underground - enough to circle the earth up to 20 times!


Pipelines in Canada map courtesy of CEPA
 
Gathering pipelines get oil and natural gas from the field to oil batteries or natural gas processing plants. Feeder pipelines transport these products to the long-distance haulers - large transmission pipelines transport to markets - and distribution pipelines get natural gas to consumers.
 
Pipelines vary from the size of a dime (12.7 millimetres) to the size of a large bale of hay (1,212 millimetres).
 
Jobs in the pipeline sector are equally diverse. You could work in the field laying pipe, inspecting pipeline seals or talking to community members about a proposed pipeline route. Or you could work in an office managing pipeline systems or in a lab developing new pipeline technologies. Visit Career Explorer, our career planning tool, to find a career that suits you.

 

Upgraders and Natural Gas Processing Plants

An upgrader is a facility that upgrades bitumen (extra heavy oil) into synthetic crude oil so that it is easier to transport. Upgraders are typically located close to oil sands production.
 
Natural gas purchased by consumers consists almost entirely of methane, the simplest hydrocarbon. In natural gas reservoirs, however, the methane is typically found in mixtures with natural gas liquids - such as ethane, propane, butane and pentanes - as well as water vapour, hydrogen sulphide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and other gases.
 
The natural gas liquids and other substances are removed from the gas stream at processing plants located near production areas or at "straddle plants" located on major pipeline systems.
 

 

Liquified Natural Gas Facilities

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities convert natural gas into liquid by cooling the gas to about -162 degrees Celcius. In a liquified state, LNG takes up 1/600th of the volume of natural gas in its gaseous state. This makes it more efficient to transport in special designed cryogenic carriers to overseas markets. When it reaches its destination the LNG is regasified.
 
Should Canada’s LNG market go ahead, lots of opportunities will be available. Check out Career Explorer, our career planning tool to see some of the roles.
 

 

 

Example of LNG Plant Construction 
 


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