What is the American Petroleum Institute?

The American Petroleum Institute (API) is a trade association representing the oil and gas industry. It is focused on influencing public policy and lobbying Congress, the executive branch of government, state governments and media. It negotiates with regulatory agencies and represents the industry in legal proceedings.

API has more than 600 members that produce, process and distribute oil and gas in the United States. It was founded in 1919 as standards-setting organization. Its other activities include developing standards for environmental protection, health and safety regulations, and training and certification programs. The institute also collects and distributes statistics on all aspects of oil and gas production, which is published in its Weekly Statistical Bulletin.

American Petroleum Institute Activities

API conducts research ranging from economic analysis to toxicological testing. It collects and publishes data on U.S. industry operations, including supply and demand of various products, imports and exports, drilling activities and costs, and well completions. Its publication Weekly Statistical Bulletin is seen as a prelude to similar data published from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). (For further reading see, "EIA vs API: What's the Difference?")

API has led development of petroleum, natural gas and petrochemical equipment and operating standards. It has developed more than 700 standards and works to promote these worldwide.

API also provides quality, environmental, and occupational health and safety management systems certification. It organizes seminars, workshops and conferences on public policy issues. Through API Training, the institute provides training and materials to the oil and natural gas business on regulatory requirements and industry standards.

American Petroleum Institute History

The institute traces its origins to World War I, when the National Petroleum War Service Committee was formed to ensure the steady flow of oil supply lines to the armed forces. The heads of the largest oil producing and refining companies served on the committee, which was formed under the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and subquently became a quasi-government body. Following the war, the American Petroleum Institute was founded to continue fostering industry cooperation with the government, facilitate domestic and international trade, and promote its interests. In 1969, API moved its offices from New York City to Washington, D.C.

In 1920, API began publishing weekly statistics on crude oil production. In 1924, the institute published the first standards for oil field equipment. During World War I, producers had pooled drilling equipment to overcome supply shortages, but often discovered gear would not work together due to a lack of uniformity.