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HandWiki. American Petroleum Institute. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 20 April 2024).
HandWiki. American Petroleum Institute. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed April 20, 2024.
HandWiki. "American Petroleum Institute" Encyclopedia, (accessed April 20, 2024).
HandWiki. (2022, November 10). American Petroleum Institute. In Encyclopedia.
HandWiki. "American Petroleum Institute." Encyclopedia. Web. 10 November, 2022.
American Petroleum Institute

The American Petroleum Institute (API) is the largest U.S. trade association for the oil and natural gas industry. It claims to represent about 650 corporations involved in production, refinement, distribution, and many other aspects of the petroleum industry. The association describes its mission as to influence public policy in support of a strong, viable U.S. oil and natural gas industry. API's chief functions on behalf of the industry include advocacy, negotiation and lobbying with governmental, legal, and regulatory agencies; research into economic, toxicological, and environmental effects; establishment and certification of industry standards; and education outreach. API both funds and conducts research related to many aspects of the petroleum industry. The current CEO and president is Mike Sommers.

oil and natural gas public policy petroleum

1. History

Although some oil was produced commercially before 1859 as a byproduct from salt brine wells, the American oil industry started on a major scale with the discovery of oil at the Drake Well in western Pennsylvania in 1859.

The American Petroleum Institute was founded on 20 March 1919 and based in New York City .[1]

In 1959, at a symposium organised by the American Petroleum Institute and the Columbia Graduate School of Business for the centennial of the American oil industry, the physicist Edward Teller warned then of the danger of global climate change.[2] Edward Teller explained that carbon dioxide "in the atmosphere causes a greenhouse effect" and that burning more fossil fuels could "melt the icecap and submerge New York".[2]

In 1969, the API decided to move its offices to Washington, DC.[1]

2. Standards and Certification

API Standards Committees are made up of subcommittees and task groups that works and maintain these standards. The committees and subcommittees are:[3]

  • Committee on Standardization of Oilfield Equipment & Materials (CSOEM)
    • SC2- Subcommittee on Offshore Structures
    • SC5- Subcommittee on Tubular Goods
    • SC6- Subcommittee on Valves & Wellhead Equipment
    • SC8- Subcommittee on Drilling Structures & Equipment
    • SC10- Subcommittee on Well Cements
    • SC11- Subcommittee on Field Operating Equipment
    • SC13- Subcommittee on Drill Completion & Fracturing Fluids
    • SC15- Subcommittee on Fiberglass & Plastic Tubulars
    • SC16- Subcommittee on Drilling Well Control Equipment
    • SC17- Subcommittee on Subsea Production Equipment
    • SC18- Subcommittee on Quality
    • SC19- Subcommittee on Completion Equipment
    • SC20- Subcommittee on Supply Chain Management[4]
  • Committee on Refinery Equipment (CRE)
    • Subcommittee on Corrosion & Materials
    • Subcommittee on Electrical Equipment
    • Subcommittee on Heat Transfer Equipment
    • Subcommittee on Inspection
    • Subcommittee on Instruments & Control Systems
    • Subcommittee on Mechanical Equipment
    • Subcommittee on Piping & Valves
    • Subcommittee on Pressure-Relieving Systems
    • Subcommittee on Aboveground Storage Tanks[5]
  • Pipeline Standards Committees
  • Safety and Fire Protection Committee (SFPS)
  • API Committee on Petroleum Measurement (COPM)
    • Committee on Evaporation Loss Estimation
    • Committee on Gas Fluids Measurement
    • Committee on Liquid Measurement
    • Committee on Measurement Accountability
    • Committee on Measurement Quality
    • Committee on Production Measurement & Allocation
    • Committee on Measurement Education & Training[6]

API also defines the industry standard for the energy conservation of motor oil. API SN is the latest specification to which motor oils intended for spark-ignited engines should adhere since 2010. It supersedes API SM.[7]

API also defines and drafts standards for measurement for manufactured products such as:

  • Precision thread gauges
  • Plain plug and ring gauges
  • Thread measuring systems
  • Metrology and industrial supplies
  • Measuring instruments
  • Custom gauges
  • Precision machining and grinding
  • ISO 17025 registered calibration

API RP 500 and RP 505 classify the locations for electrical equipment in hazardous areas.[8][9]

API has entered petroleum industry nomenclature in a number of areas:

  • API gravity, a measure of the density of petroleum.
  • API number, a unique identifier applied to each petroleum exploration or production well drilled in the United States.
  • API unit, a standard measure of natural gamma radiation measured in a borehole.[10]

3. Educator Intervention

In addition to training industry workers and conducting seminars, workshops, and conferences on public policy, API develops and distributes materials and curricula for schoolchildren and educators. The association also maintains a website, Classroom Energy.

4. Public Relations and Lobbying

API spent more than $3 million annually during the period 2005 to 2009 on lobbying; $3.6 million in 2009.[11] As of 2009, according to API’s quarterly “Lobbying Report” submitted to the U.S. Senate, the organization had 16 lobbyists lobbying Congress.[12] According to an investigation conducted by the International Business Times, API lobbied the Department of State for all of 2009 on "legislative efforts concerning oil sands" and "Canadian Oil Sands."[13]

The American Petroleum Institute also lobbied the State Department every quarter in 2009. In three of four quarters, the group listed “legislative efforts concerning oil sands” as one of the areas it was focusing on in its lobbying, and in the final quarter, it listed “Canadian Oil Sands.” Among API’s members are ExxonMobil, which has invested in Canadian oil sands.

API lobbies and organizes its member employees' attendance at public events to communicate the industry's position on issues. A leaked summer 2009 memo from then API President Jack Gerard asked its member companies to urge their employees to participate in planned protests (designed to appear independently organized) against the cap-and-trade legislation the House passed that same summer. "The objective of these rallies is to put a human face on the impacts of unsound energy policy and to aim a loud message at [20 different] states," including Florida, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. Gerard went on to assure recipients of the memo that API will cover all organizational costs and handling of logistics. In response to the memo, an API spokesman told media that participants will be there (at protests) because of their own concerns, and that API is just helping them assemble.[14]

To help fight climate control legislation that has been approved by the U.S. House, API supports the Energy Citizens group, which is holding public events.[15][16] API encouraged energy company employees to attend one of its first Energy Citizen events held in Houston in August 2009, but turned away Texas residents who were not employed by the energy industry. Fast Company reported that some attendees had no idea of the purpose of the event.[17][18] In December 2009, Mother Jones magazine said API and Energy Citizens were promulgating climate disinformation.[19]

In the second half of 2008, as the U.S. presidential election neared, API began airing a series of television ads where spokeswoman Brooke Alexander encourages people to visit their new website,

In January 2012, the American Petroleum Institute launched the voter education campaign - Vote 4 Energy. The campaign says that increased domestic energy production can create jobs, increase government revenue, and provide U.S. energy security. The Vote 4 Energy campaign does not promote any specific candidate or party, but rather provides voters with energy information to equip them to evaluate candidates on the federal and local levels and make decisions in favor of domestic energy on Election Day. The main components of the Vote 4 Energy campaign include the website - - and social media communities, along with a series of advertisements and events around the country. The vote 4 energy campaign was criticized for presenting misleading arguments about the relationship between oil production and jobs whilst ignoring the potentially catastrophic consequences of increased fossil fuel consumption on the Earth's climate.[20]

The API successfully pushed for an end to a ban on American oil exports on the grounds that the ban increased demand for Russian and Iranian oil, thereby benefiting the unfriendly regimes in these countries. Critics noted that many of its member companies continued to maintain ongoing business in these countries whilst the lobbying campaign was in progress, leading to accusations of hypocrisy.[21] Furthermore, the API's campaigns have been criticized for advocating policies that are likely to exacerbate global warming and its associated problems.[22] The API has repeatedly funded conservative groups that deny the reality of anthropogenic global warming[23] in spite of the overwhelming scientific consensus that it presents a serious problem for the planet.[24]

It has many front groups, including the NH Energy Forum that in August 2011 hosted a New Hampshire event for Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry[25][26]


  1. "API history", American Petroleum Institute (page visited on 2 January 2018).
  2. Benjamin Franta, "On its 100th birthday in 1959, Edward Teller warned the oil industry about global warming", The Guardian , 1 January 2018 (page visited on 2 January 2018).
  3. "Committee Information". 
  4. "Committee on Standardization of Oilfield Equipment and Materials (CSOEM)". 
  5. "API Committee on Refinery Equipment (CRE)". 
  6. "API Committee on Petroleum Measurement (COPM)". 
  7. "Engine Oil Guide". American Petroleum Institute. March 2010. 
  8. API RP 505 Recommended Practice for Classification of Locations for Electrical Installation at Petroleum Facilities Classified as Class I, Zone 0, Zone 1 and Zone 2 (2002).
  9. API RP 500 Recommended Practice for Classification of Locations for electrical Installation at Petroleum Facilities Classified as Class I, Division 1 and Division 2.
  10. API Unit, Schlumberger Oilfield Glossary, accessed 11 Nov. 2015.
  11. "Lobbying: American Petroleum Institute". Center for Responsive Politics. Retrieved March 29, 2012. 
  12. "Second Quarter Lobbying Form, 2009, Secretary of the Senate". Retrieved March 29, 2012. 
  13. Sirota, David (5 April 2016). "Oil Companies Donated to Clinton Foundation While Lobbying State Department". International Business Times. Retrieved 14 April 2016. 
  14. Stone, Daniel (August 20, 2009). "The Browning of Grassroots". Newsweek. Retrieved March 29, 2012. 
  15. Krauss, Clifford; Mouawad, Jad (August 18, 2009). "Oil Companies Back Public Protests of Greenhouse Gas Bill". Retrieved August 2, 2019. 
  16. McNulty, Sheila (August 20, 2009). "The big oil backlash?". Financial Times. Retrieved March 29, 2012. 
  17. Schwartz, Ariel (August 21, 2009). "American Petroleum Institute Demonstrates How to Screw Up a Grassroots Event". Fast Company. Retrieved March 29, 2012. 
  18. Talley, Ian (August 11, 2009). "Lobby Groups to Use Town Hall Tactics to Oppose Climate Bill". The Wall Street Journal. 
  19. Harkinson, Josh (December 4, 2009). "The Dirty Dozen of Climate Change Denial". Mother Jones. Retrieved August 17, 2015. "Here's a guide to the dozen loudest components of the climate disinformation machine...Meet the 12 loudest members of the chorus claiming that global warming is a joke and that CO2 emissions are actually good for you." 
  20. DaMelle, Brendan. "API's New 'Vote 4 Energy' Ad Campaign Is Thinly Veiled Election Year Bullying". DeSmog Blog. Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  21. Horn, Steve. "Big Oil Argued for U.S. Crude Exports to Fend Off Iran, But First Exporter Vitol Group Also Exported Iran's Oil". Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  22. Readfearn, Graham. "What happened to the lobbyists who tried to reshape the US view of climate change?". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  23. Dunlap, Riley; Jacques, Peter (2013). "Climate Change Denial Books and Conservative Think Tanks: Exploring the Connection". American Behavioral Scientist 57 (6): 699–731. doi:10.1177/0002764213477096. PMID 24098056. PMC 3787818. Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  24. Cook, John (2014). "Reply to 'Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature: A re-analysis'.". Energy Policy 73: 706–708. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2014.06.002.
  25. Johnson, Brad (August 15, 2011). "Rick Perry's First Stop In New Hampshire Is Funded By Big Oil". ThinkProgress. Retrieved March 29, 2012. 
  26. "Rick Perry stumps Manchester - next stop Iowa", New Hampshire Public Radio, 14 August 2011.
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