In ExxonMobil's technical jargon, all activities related to the exploration and production of natural gas and crude oil are referred to as 'upstream'.
ExxonMobil's Benelux upstream activities take place in the Netherlands via holdings in the NAM (Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij) and GasTerra. ExxonMobil has a fifty per cent share in the NAM, as does its competitor Shell. Fifty per cent of GasTerra is owned by the Dutch government, twenty-five per cent by ExxonMobil and twenty-five per cent by Shell.
The NAM's production activities involve the exploration and production of oil and especially natural gas from fields in (for example) Groningen and the North Sea.
The NAM sells the natural gas to GasTerra, which, in turn, sells it to large-scale customers, such as power stations and energy companies. GasTerra is one of the most important players on the European gas market.
The crude oil produced from the wells is transported 'downstream' via tankers and pipelines to the refineries in Rotterdam and Antwerp. This is where the various liquids and gasses that mineral oil contains are separated to make the products that ExxonMobil markets, such as petrol, kerosene, LPG, marine gas oil and diesel.
Chemicals are nature's building blocks. The chemical building blocks (or molecules) are transformed by creative scientists into countless products that we use every day. The largest reserve of molecules is bound in the mixture that we call crude or mineral oil. These days, we can separate oil into hundreds of building blocks to form petrochemical basic products. We have learned from research that we can make thousands of different end products from these materials.
Nowadays, thanks to the knowledge that, among other organisations, ExxonMobil Chemical has been building up for decades, chemical substances can be 'customised'. It is, for example, possible to make a non-elastic type of rubber that does not bounce, a plastic hinge that becomes stronger the more it is bent, miracle fibres for durable and easy-to-wear clothing, fuel additives that improve engine performance... the list of applications is almost endless. Incidentally, the search for new chemicals and new applications for existing ones is still going on.
Today, manufactured chemicals play a key role in the success and quality of a long list of widely-ranging products such as cars, artificial fertilisers, compact disks, footballs, paints, disposable nappies as well as perfume, lipstick and chewing gum. These are just a few of the end products that depend on manufactured chemicals; we would not have any difficulty in thinking of dozens of others that could be added to the list.