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SAP for Oil & Gas provides integrated, open solutions for more than 97% of FORTU

NE 500 oil and gas companies -- and over 750,000 users -- supporting fundamental
business requirements and upstream, midstream, downstream, and marketing proces
ses. Plus, SAP for Oil & Gas is powered by the SAP NetWeaver platform, laying th
e foundation for new cross-functional business processes.
Oil companies
Oil companies engage in exploration and production of oil ("upstream" activities
), oil transportation and refining ("midstream"), and petroleum product wholesal
e and retail distribution ("downstream"). The largest companies, known as the "m
ajors," are vertically integrated, with business operations along the entire spe
ctrum from exploration to gas stations. Smaller oil companies, known as "indepen
dents," are often exclusively involved in exploration and production. Upstream i
s considered the glamorous place to be, where all the big decisions are made. Up
stream jobs also involve heavy international work, with many employees sent off
to new postings around the world every 3 years or so. We should also note that E
&P businesses are fairly similar in nature among oil companies and companies min
ing other natural resources like uranium or coal -- moving among these types of
firms during a career can be a logical path.
The majors are known for excellent rotational training programs, and a fair numb
er of people take advantage of those programs and then jump over to independents
for good salaries. Oil companies pay well in general, but jobs are not necessar
ily as stable as one might think. When oil prices drop, company operating profit
s are dramatically impacted, and layoffs are fairly common. American oil jobs ar
e overwhelmingly concentrated in Houston. International hot spots include London
, Calgary, and the Middle East. Some oil companies focus exclusively on midstrea
m and downstream activities. They operate refineries to distill crude oil into i
ts many commercially useful petroleum derivatives, like gasoline, jet fuel, solv
ents, and asphalt. Refineries are, in theory, built to last 40 years, but some h
ave been around for as long as 80 years. That means that new refineries are rare
ly built, and the refinery business is mostly about managing the razor-thin marg
ins between purchased crude oil inputs and revenues from refined product outputs
Oil services companies
Oil services companies provide a very wide range of outsourced operational suppo
rt to oil companies, such as owning and renting out oil rigs, conducting seismic
testing, and transporting equipment. The fortunes of these companies follow the
price of oil: when oil is expensive, oil companies drill a lot and make a lot o
f money, so business volume and revenue increase for their oil services contract
ors. Working for an oil services company probably means working in Texas or inte
rnationally, and can feel very much like working for an oil company, given the s
imilarity in issues and activities.
Pipeline operators
Pipeline operators own and manage tens of thousands of miles of petroleum produc
ts and natural gas pipelines. Many of them also operate oil intake terminals, en
gage in commodities trading and energy marketing, and own natural gas storage fa
cilities or petroleum refineries as well. Unlike the major oil companies, pipeli
ne operation companies are not household names -- nonetheless, the largest ones
take in several billion in annual revenue, comparable to the scale of a medium-s
ized oil company.

Utilities are, by definition, located all over the country&everyone has to get t
heir electricity and gas from somewhere, of course. However, as a result of mass
ive consolidation among utility holding companies, the corporate offices for you
r local utility may not necessarily be that local. There are presently about 50
investor-owned utilities in the country, but industry insiders predict that in a
few years mergers may leave us with as few as 10. The "graying" of the utility
industry is a well-documented trend; 60% of current utility employees are expect
ed to retire by 2015 -- meaning there's lots of opportunity today for young job