Oil and Natural Gas: Downstream

Downstream – Final Phase

The downstream phase of the oil and natural gas industry is the last step in the process where products are refined, manufactured and finally reach the end user.

The downstream industry includes oil refineries, petrochemical plants, retail gas stations and natural gas distribution companies.


Oil extracted from the ground is generally not useful as-is. It requires further processing, which is done in a refinery. Refineries convert oil into products like gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel, asphalt base, heating crude oil and kerosene. A lot happens in downstream, which is why employment demand remains steady.

Refinery End Products


Canada’s Refineries

Petrochemical Plants

Alberta is Canada’s leading petrochemical manufacturer. The province produces invaluable building-blocks including ethylene, propylene, ammonia, urea and methanol which are then used to manufacture plastics, fertilizers and pesticides, fuel additives, textile fibres, pharmaceuticals, soap and detergents and more. With an abundant supply of natural gas for feedstock, the province is home to two of the world’s largest ethane-cracking plants.

Petrochemical End Products

Global demand for petrochemicals is growing. In order to meet this demand, Alberta has three new petrochemical projects planned for 2022, which will need many skilled workers.

Jobs related to petrochemicals can include project development, design and approval, construction, or operations and maintenance. Check out Working in Oil and Gas to learn more.

Petrochemicals opportunities include: