The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

100 Days: Industry Standards Reflect Commitment to Safety

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted March 27, 2017

Safety is a core value of the oil and natural gas industry – safety for workers, communities near active operations and the environment, from protecting plants and animals to reducing emissions for cleaner air. Safety has continued to grow since the advent of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, bringing energy development to more and more areas across the country.

Commitment to safety is the foundation for API’s almost 700 standards covering all segments of industry operations. They range from the fundamental – safe offshore operations – to the detailed, such as onshore tank measurement of crude oil.

These are standards developed by the best and brightest technical experts from government, academia and industry, under a program accredited by the American National Standards Institute, the same body that accredits programs at several national laboratories. Some of the numbers that describe API standards:

  • 95 – Standards that are referenced by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), the federal agency that oversees offshore safety.
  • 130 – Standards referenced in more than 430 citations by government agencies, including BSEE, the U.S. Coast Guard, EPA, the Federal Trade Commission, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
  • 4,130 – References in state regulations to more than 240 API standards – the most widely referenced petroleum industry standards used by state regulators.

Improving the safety of energy development is the overarching goal. Industry’s decades-long, demonstrated safety commitment is at the heart of its credibility – with employees, communities and government officials – which is needed for productive energy partnerships. These efforts are succeeding. The injury and illness rate for the U.S. oil and natural gas industry of 1.9 incidences per 100 workers in 2015 was well below the national average for all private sectors (3.0 per 100 workers):


Even so, the goal is zero incidents and the industry remains committed to continuous improvement. At the same time, a review of the science shows that the current, robust industry standards and stringent state and federal regulations are protecting public health as well.

Conducting safe operations is critically important to communities where energy development is occurring – to our employees live there and their neighbors. From API’s 2017 State of American Energy report:

To facilitate community engagement in oil and natural gas development areas, API developed a first-of-its-kind “good neighbor” industry standard, which includes recommendations to:  

    • Help local leaders and residents prepare for energy exploration
    • Minimize interruption to the community
    • Conduct public meetings on safety
    • Work with local educational institutions to discuss training for new job opportunities
    • Develop relationships with mineral owners
    • Enhance the long-term benefits of local development
    • Ensure that oil and gas production is done in a way that complements community goals.

Much of this is linked to safety and industry’s commitment to continuously improve its safety. API President and CEO Jack Gerard:

“The oil and natural gas industry has shown the world how entrepreneurial spirit, innovations in energy production techniques, a core commitment to safety – pioneered and reaffirmed every day by the millions of women and men of the oil and natural gas industry – and smart, effective regulations have transformed the United States from a passive consumer on the world energy stage to a leader in only a decade’s time.”

The “100 Days” series of posts.


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.