Sectors of industry
An OPITO case study

Page 5: Secondary sector and tertiary sector

Secondary sector

The secondary sector takes raw materials and turns them into products. In the oil and gas industry, there are two aspects to production. The Academy is involved with supporting the skills required for the “upstream” secondary sector processes (where the raw materials are extracted).

However, the oil and gas industry as a whole needs people with the right skills to get the products to market. These products include petrol, diesel and natural gas.

There are several aspects to this part of production:

  • Transportation of the oil and gas by pipeline from the drilling site. This may be overseen by a Pipeline Engineer.
  • Product development is vital to make sure that as much of the resources as possible can be turned into usable products. Workers in this stage of the chain of production would require qualifications in chemistry or chemical engineering.

People with engineering skills may find they have the abilities to work in both the upstream and downstream processes. Both parts are dependent on each other to get the natural resources from sea to land.

Tertiary sector

The oil and gas industry is not immediately associated with the tertiary sector other than through petrol station forecourts. However, there are numerous roles which, although considered to be in the tertiary sector, still serve primary sector activity. These include finance, contracts and law, human resources, sales and marketing, or IT. Unlike roles in extraction and production, the majority of tertiary sector jobs in the industry are based onshore.

Susan is a Gas Trading Executive. She studied for a Maths and Economics degree. Susan”s role is to analyse the UK gas market. She looks at price, supply and demand, as well as investigating the external factors that affect these. Traders then use this information to buy or sell gas in large quantities. Susan says, 'When I was studying I didn”t even know the oil and gas industry existed, but now that I am in it, I recognise that it is a very dynamic industry with huge opportunities available. Many people think the industry is purely engineering focused, but there are lots of opportunities for people from other disciplines.'


As the global economy is becoming more challenging, the industry relies on having top quality people in these roles. For example, Business Studies graduates would be well qualified to work in market research, planning or legal functions. People mayalso move across disciplines within the industry.

Douglas completed an honours degree in Business Studies before getting a job as a Project Engineer in the oil and gas industry. His day-to-day role involves managing teams of multi-disciplined personnel who undertake a wide range of maintenance and construction projects in the oil and gas industry.

Andrew studied for a Business Studies degree and now works as a Commercial Advisor for Talisman, a Canadian exploration company. His day-to-day job involves negotiating and implementing legal agreements. These allow the company to develop oil and gas reserves. Andrew states that “It is hugely rewarding to see that yourefforts have led to the production of oil.”

OPITO | Sectors of industry

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