American Petroleum Institute

American Petroleum Institute

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The American Petroleum Institute, commonly referred to as API, is the largest U.S trade association
Industry trade group
A trade association, also known as an industry trade group, business association or sector association, is an organization founded and funded by businesses that operate in a specific industry...

 for the oil and natural gas industry. It claims to represent about 400 corporations involved in production
Extraction of petroleum
The extraction of petroleum is the process by which usable petroleum is extracted and removed from the earth.-Locating the oil field:Geologists use seismic surveys to search for geological structures that may form oil reservoirs...

, refinement
Oil refinery
An oil refinery or petroleum refinery is an industrial process plant where crude oil is processed and refined into more useful petroleum products, such as gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt base, heating oil, kerosene, and liquefied petroleum gas...

, distribution
Pipeline transport
Pipeline transport is the transportation of goods through a pipe. Most commonly, liquids and gases are sent, but pneumatic tubes that transport solid capsules using compressed air are also used....

, and many other aspects of the petroleum industry
Petroleum industry
The petroleum industry includes the global processes of exploration, extraction, refining, transporting , and marketing petroleum products. The largest volume products of the industry are fuel oil and gasoline...


The association’s chief functions on behalf of the industry include advocacy
Advocacy is a political process by an individual or a large group which normally aims to influence public-policy and resource allocation decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions; it may be motivated from moral, ethical or faith principles or simply to protect an...

 and negotiation
Negotiation is a dialogue between two or more people or parties, intended to reach an understanding, resolve point of difference, or gain advantage in outcome of dialogue, to produce an agreement upon courses of action, to bargain for individual or collective advantage, to craft outcomes to satisfy...

 with governmental, legal, and regulatory agencies; research
Research can be defined as the scientific search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method...

 into economic, toxicological, and environmental effects; establishment and certification of industry standards; and education outreach
Education outreach
Education outreach is a variation of Cause Marketing and/or Strategic Philanthropy and other focused Public Affairs activities that are specific to education...

. API both funds and conducts research related to many aspects of the petroleum industry.

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
Rick Perry
James Richard "Rick" Perry is the 47th and current Governor of Texas. A Republican, Perry was elected Lieutenant Governor of Texas in 1998 and assumed the governorship in December 2000 when then-governor George W. Bush resigned to become President of the United States. Perry was elected to full...


Standards and certification

API distributes more than 200,000 copies of its publications each year. The publications, technical standards, and electronic and online products are designed, according to API itself, to help users improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of their operations, comply with legislative and regulatory requirements, and safeguard health, ensure safety, and (perhaps most controversially) "protect the environment". Each publication is overseen by a committee of industry professionals, mostly member company engineers.

These technical standards tend to be uncontroversial. For example, API 610 is the specification for centrifugal pumps, API 675 is the specification for controlled volume positive displacement pumps, both packed-plunger and diaphragm types are included. Diaphragm pumps that use direct mechanical actuation are excluded. API 677 is the standard for gear units and API 682 governs mechanical seals.

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. Different specifications exist for compression-ignited
Diesel engine
A diesel engine is an internal combustion engine that uses the heat of compression to initiate ignition to burn the fuel, which is injected into the combustion chamber...


API provides vessel codes and standards for the design and fabrication of pressure vessels that help safeguard the lives of people and environments all over the world.

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 has entered petroleum industry nomenclature in a number of areas:
  • API gravity
    API gravity
    The American Petroleum Institute gravity, or API gravity, is a measure of how heavy or light a petroleum liquid is compared to water. If its API gravity is greater than 10, it is lighter and floats on water; if less than 10, it is heavier and sinks...

    , 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
    Formation evaluation gamma ray
    The formation evaluation gamma ray log is a record of the variation with depth of the natural radioactivity of earth materials in a wellbore. Measurement of natural emission of gamma rays in oil and gas wells are useful because shales and sandstones typically have different gamma ray levels...

     measured in a borehole.

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. These materials take a baldly pro-oil-industry view of various major controversies including oil spill
Oil spill
An oil spill is the release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment, especially marine areas, due to human activity, and is a form of pollution. The term is mostly used to describe marine oil spills, where oil is released into the ocean or coastal waters...

s, pipelines, global warming
Global warming
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

, ocean acidity.

Public advocacy

In the second half of 2008, as the US presidential election
United States presidential election, 2008
The United States presidential election of 2008 was the 56th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on November 4, 2008. Democrat Barack Obama, then the junior United States Senator from Illinois, defeated Republican John McCain, the senior U.S. Senator from Arizona. Obama received 365...

 neared, API began airing a series of television ads where spokeswoman Brooke Alexander
Brooke Alexander
Brooke Alexander is an American actress. She is best known for her role as con-artist Samantha Markham on As the World Turns .Alexander was born in Kailua, Oahu, Hawaii. She attended college at UCLA....

 encourages people to visit their new website, API does not use their own name in the ads but does call themselves "The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Industry."

In October 2011, during debates on major job-creation bills and the Republican Party nomination race, similar ads aired (heavily on CNN
Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

, for instance) promoting a jobs strategy based on oil and tar sands
Tar sands
Bituminous sands, colloquially known as oil sands or tar sands, are a type of unconventional petroleum deposit. The sands contain naturally occurring mixtures of sand, clay, water, and a dense and extremely viscous form of petroleum technically referred to as bitumen...

 developments such as Keystone XL. This was an attempt to gain approval of that pipeline before its December 2011 deadline by making it politically difficult to oppose.

API allies and supporters including the Koch brothers were also visible in this debate.


API has spent more than $3 million annually for each the last five years (2005 to 2009) on lobbying, and $3.6 million in 2009. In API’s latest quarterly “Lobbying Report” submitted to the US Senate, the organization reported that it had 16 lobbyists supporting it to lobby on various Congressional activities.

API conducts lobbying and organizes its member employees' attendance at public events to communicate the industry's position on various issues. A leaked summer 2009 memo from API President Jack Gerard
Jack Gerard
Jack Gerard is the CEO of the American Petroleum Institute in Washington, DC.Gerard grew up in Terreton, Idaho. He attended the University of Idaho for a year before serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Australia. He then returned to the University of Idaho...

 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
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 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.

To help fight climate control legislation that has been approved by the US House, API supports the Energy Citizens group, which is holding public events. 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 (magazine)
Fast Company (magazine)
Fast Company is a full-color business magazine that releases 10 issues per year and reports on topics including innovation, digital media, technology, change management, leadership, design, and social responsibility...

reported that some attendees had no idea of the purpose of the event, and called it “astroturfing
Astroturfing is a form of advocacy in support of a political, organizational, or corporate agenda, designed to give the appearance of a "grassroots" movement. The goal of such campaigns is to disguise the efforts of a political and/or commercial entity as an independent public reaction to some...

 at its finest.“

Similarly the mass-media ads aired in 2008 and 2011 were focused on claims that more jobs would be created by high-carbon "dirty oil" projects than by energy conservation
Energy conservation
Energy conservation refers to efforts made to reduce energy consumption. Energy conservation can be achieved through increased efficient energy use, in conjunction with decreased energy consumption and/or reduced consumption from conventional energy sources...

 which tends to result in more construction industry, renovation
Renovation is the process of improving a structure. Two prominent types of renovations are commercial and residential.-Process:The process of a renovation, however complex, can usually be broken down into several processes...

 and smart home / smart grid jobs. This claim is hotly disputed especially by the Obama Administration itself.

API promotes and funds Rick Perry
Rick Perry
James Richard "Rick" Perry is the 47th and current Governor of Texas. A Republican, Perry was elected Lieutenant Governor of Texas in 1998 and assumed the governorship in December 2000 when then-governor George W. Bush resigned to become President of the United States. Perry was elected to full...

events, which has attracted considerable public debate.

External links