Difference Between Downstream and Upstream (With Table)

The phrases upstream and downstream are often associated to the manufacturing strategy of the oil trade and typically to the circulation of a river. For studying in regards to the manufacturing strategy of the oil and fuel trade, it’s important to perceive that the provision chain is crucial a part of the manufacturing course of and is important for the success of the enterprise. Using phrases upstream and downstream comes into use because the manufacturing course of is imagined to be just like the circulation of a river.

Downstream vs Upstream

The principle distinction between upstream and downstream manufacturing processes is that the upstream course of refers to all of the actions carried out to assemble all of the preliminary supplies for manufacturingwhereas the downstream course of consists of the refining of crude oil and the retailing of the merchandise to the shoppers. There are two manufacturing segments within the manufacturing course of, particularly upstream, and downstream processes. 

The downstream manufacturing course of is the ultimate step within the manufacturing strategy of the oil and fuel trade. The ultimate steps embody oil refining, supplying produced merchandise, advertising and marketing, and retail. The downstream course of covers many actions, together with large-scale manufacturing, petrochemical refining, distribution, and retailing of the ultimate merchandise. The downstream phase is managed by multi-national oil and pure fuel manufacturing companies which sell the products made within the trade.

Alternatively, the upstream manufacturing course of is all about discovering the places of wells and different required supplies for the manufacturing course of. Within the upstream stage of the manufacturing course of, the employees search and extract the uncooked supplies. The upstream trade mainly consists of three segments, particularly, exploration, drilling, and manufacturing. The upstream manufacturing course of is performed by corporations that search, establish, extract and produce uncooked supplies for the oil and fuel trade.

Comparision Desk Between Downstream and Upstream

Parameters of Comparability Downstream Upstream
Definition The ultimate phase of the manufacturing course of within the oil and fuel trade together with the sale of the ultimate merchandise The preliminary stage together with actions like exploration and manufacturing of oil and pure fuel
Kind of labor performed Changing crude oil into different merchandise and promoting these to shoppers Finding underwater oil reserves and offering uncooked supplies to producers
Processes executed Distribution, retailing, wholesaling Exploration, drilling, manufacturing
Infrastructures concerned Atmospheric distillation unit, Vacuum distillation unit, Emission stacks Rigs, Donkey pumps, Christmas tree system
Staff Corporations together with oil refineries, petroleum product distributors, stores Geologists, Geophysicists, Service rig operations, Scientists

What’s Downstream?

The downstream phase of the manufacturing course of consists of actions like processing of oil and pure fuel, refining of crude oil, transporting, and promoting of refined merchandise from crude oil. Step one within the downstream course of is oil refining, which is adopted by the manufacturing of merchandise which might be then offered to the shoppers via retailers.

As soon as the crude oil is distributed for refining, the work of the downstream phase staff begins. They retailer the crude oil within the Refineries and ultimately ship it to the distillation unit the place the crude oil is transformed into numerous merchandise like Petrol, Diesel, Kerosene, and many extra. These merchandise are saved in tanks and later despatched to the filling stations, whereas the surplus oil left is exported for various use.

The downstream phase additionally consists of the processing of pure fuel as effectively. It’s a very advanced course of involving chemical reactions to supply numerous merchandise like ethane, propane, butane and many extra hydrocarbons. As for crude oil, it’s refined utilizing fractional distillation and produces many end-products, together with gasoline, naphtha, diesel oil, and many extra.

What’s Upstream?

Within the oil and pure fuel trade, the upstream is the preliminary stage of the manufacturing course of. It’s all about discovering places of wells and about designing them to ship an amazing end result for the manufacturing course of. The upstream phase consists of three foremost processes, particularly exploration of minerals, drilling and constructing wells, and producing oil and pure fuel.

Step one of the upstream phase, exploration, refers to geologic surveys and gathering details about places of particular areas minerals are prone to be discovered. The geophysicists working within the upstream phase use numerous strategies to measure the physical properties to detect the presence of oil or pure fuel. Then the geologists research the geological elements by scientific strategies to design and assemble a effectively to extract the minerals present in that place.

The second step within the upstream course of is drilling. To be able to be completely positive in regards to the location of the effectively, it’s to drill and discover out. After setting up the effectively, all that’s left to do is to take the discovered crude oil and retailer it within the manufacturing unit till its time for the final step within the upstream phase. The ultimate step included within the upstream manufacturing course of is the manufacturing itself. The manufacturing phase maximizes the restoration of petroleum from the reservoirs. The crude oil is then transferred into the inventory tank, from the place the downstream manufacturing course of begins.

Primary Variations Between Downstream and Upstream

  1. The upstream phase entails the preliminary levels of the method like exploration and extraction, whereas the downstream phase consists of the ultimate levels of the manufacturing course of like oil refining and retail.
  2. The downstream manufacturing course of comes below the management of oil and fuel retail corporations, whereas the upstream manufacturing course of is managed by corporations that discover and extract the uncooked supplies.
  3. The upstream phase is all about exploring and setting up wells, whereas the downstream course of is in regards to the sale of the final product.
  4. The upstream phase entails geologists, scientists, geophysicists, whereas the downstream phase supplies employment to many retailers.
  5. Within the downstream course of, the margins are decreased when the elevated crude price is not recovered in the market, whereas within the upstream course of, there isn’t a such compromisation in margins.


To sum all of it up, the upstream and downstream processes consult with the corporate’s place on the supply chain. The manufacturing strategy of the oil and fuel trade is split into two segments, particularly, upstream and downstream manufacturing processes. The upstream phase additional consists of the midstream manufacturing course of, which is mainly the hyperlink between upstream and downstream. Each the segments are to be executed perfectly to produce helpful merchandise from crude oil.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140988319302269
  2. https://ecologicalprocesses.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s13717-014-0019-4