Primer: The Oil and Gas Industry (PDF 254.43 KB)
Supermajors own a small share of reserves compared to NOCs, but their profits are still very large, often comparable to the GDPs of many medium-sized countries.
- Oil and gas are hydrocarbons formed from the compression of organic material over millions of years.
- The process of getting oil out of the ground and to end-users is divided between upstream operations, which include exploration and production, and downstream operations, which include refining, marketing, and distribution.
- Nationally owned oil companies are the largest players in the industry.
- New technology has made it profitable to extract oil and gas from new places when prices are high. One of the major new processes is hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which allows companies to extract shale oil and gas.