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American Petroleum Institute (Api) - A Legendary Institution

When a young chemical engineer frequently encounters the acronym API at the start of his or her career, he or she has probably a lot of questions about what on earth is this institute all about and how is it that in my day-to-day job I encounter this term multiple times. This blog entry tries to give some insight about this legendary institution which can really be said to be the founding father of the alliance between the petroleum industry and academic research conducted in the hallowed institutes of learning not only in North America but worldwide.

If you carefully analyze most of the standards, guidelines and recommended practices published by API, they form the benchmark in the design, construction, operation and safety of all industries related to the exploration, transportation, storage and refining of petroleum. The API publications have been widely adopted and copied worldwide by many countries outside the North American continent. If you look at the publications related to the petroleum industry from other countries you will invariably find a reference to the API standards. Some such publications which are invariably linked to the API are Norwegian standards (NORSOK), Det Norske Veritas (DNV), Indian Standards (IS) and many others. Many standards and guidelines published by top operating companies such as Shell, Conoco Philips, Chevron, Total, BP, ARAMCO etc. liberally provide reference of API standards for design, construction, operation and safety of petroleum installations run by them.

Since the last few years, API and ISO (International Organization for Standardization) have embarked on a collaborative venture where the API and ISO standards for petroleum are now identical except that in North America they are still known as API standards and provide both SI and English Units for all measurement. So what started out as a American government and industry association during the time of the first world war has now truly become a global institute guiding the mammoth petroleum industry and in some ways the world economy which still is so heavily dependent on petroleum.

API standards, guidelines and recommended practices are the combination of actual petroleum industry practices o, academic research and government initiatives over several decades to sustain a profitable and safe petroleum industry. They have also contributed in the optimum utilization of petroleum resources which as we all know is a dwindling resource for mankind.

If you want to read more about the status, history and background of this hallowed institute refer the following links:



Since the time I got associated with the oil and gas industry I have made it a point to familiarize myself with quite a few API standards, guidelines and recommended practices out of the hundreds of publications made available by them and believe me they have helped me a great deal in pushing my career graph upwards.

Would love to hear comments from the members of the "Cheresources" community and specially from young chemical engineers associated with the petroleum industry.



Nice blog!
Just want to ask where can I have access to API standards as I work in operations


API standards are not available for free. They are all available for a cost as online or downloadable documents from several websites. There is a reason for them being available for a fee. API recruits professionals (from the petroleum industry, academic institutes)and pays them to write, review and update the standards and recommended practices they publish. The cost that they incur in publishing these standards is recovered by them by charging a nominal fee. The pricing for the standards I believe is quite reasonable considering that a great deal of time and money has been spent to generate these standards.

A website from where you can purchase a copy of your desired API standards are as follows:


A catalog of the various API publications can be downloaded from the following link:


Hope this helps.

Thanks for the blog
Dec 21 2012 05:53 AM
Thanks for the blog

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