This article first appeared on World

At a time when geopolitics is often characterized by competition and partisan divides, energy security stands out as an anomaly, where international cooperation and collaboration have become the norm. One can debate the motivations behind such nonconformity, but its effect is undisputed: Diverse perspectives are uniting to shape a more secure and sustainable global energy future.

It is against this backdrop of shared interests that the American Petroleum Institute (API) played a key role in the 2023 Academic Forum on Standardization of Petroleum Industry (Forum) in Beijing. Co-hosted by China’s Petroleum Standardization Committee (CPSC), this bi-annual conference focused on promoting research and the exchange of standardization techniques, along with strengthening cooperation and collaboration among industry stakeholders. The program was the result of a newly formed partnership, finalized in a 2022 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two organizations, and extends beyond joint events, aiming to share knowledge and promote safer and more efficient industry practices.

Significance of global partnerships: API’s collaboration with China

As the world turns its collective focus toward energy security and environmental responsibility, international partnerships become essential for progress. Collaborations like API-CPSC promote consistency and an alignment of goals, along with a high-profile dedication to tackling the most important challenges of our time. Issues like climate change, for example, transcend borders; therefore, the most effective measures are those that seek collective action — an approach requiring unity, not division.

As part of its 2022 MOU, API’s collaboration with CPSC has involved an important knowledge exchange between American and Chinese industry experts, promoting the adoption of relevant API standards within China’s natural gas and oil industry. The Forum was just one notable exchange and served as a launching pad for others.

In late November 2023, API hosted a workshop with CPSC focused on API Spec 5B (Threading, Gauging and Inspection of Casing, Tubing and Line Pipe Threads). Over 100 key figures from research, manufacturing and procurement across China’s largest national oil companies (CNPC and Sinopec) gathered to share expertise and facilitate the adoption of API standards in critical sectors of China’s oil and gas industry. The exchange yielded valuable insights and advanced the integration of API’s globally recognized standards.

Held on the same day, another workshop dedicated to API Spec 6D (Specification for Pipeline and Piping Valves) brought together 50 participants from leading valve manufacturers, research and development institutes and procurement departments from all four major Chinese national oil companies (CNPC, Sinopec, CNOOC, PipeChina) alongside API member companies SLB and Cameron. The gathering served as a platform for sharing knowledge and expertise and enhancing industry standards and practices in valve manufacturing.

Looking ahead, API plans further collaborative efforts with CPSC and API’s additional international partner, the Standardization Institute of the Chinese Petroleum Society (CPSI), as it co-hosts three specialized workshops focused on key industry standards. These workshops will address API Spec 5CT (Calculating Performance Properties of Pipe Used as Casing or Tubing) and API Spec 6A (Wellhead and Tree Equipment), crucial areas for bolstering safe and efficient industry operations in China. These future workshops underscore API’s ongoing commitment to foster deeper international cooperation, enhancing operational efficiencies and driving positive industry change.

API’s Global MOUs

Beyond China, API has forged strategic MOUs with additional nations, part of an ongoing effort to build a framework for countries to strengthen their energy independence and support emerging energy markets.

Guyana – After discovering a large offshore oil field in 2015, Guyana recognized the potential in leveraging this natural resource to transform its economy, while acknowledging the importance of safety and environmental protections needed to develop this critical resource. Working with the Guyanese National Bureau of Standards, API signed an MOU that provides them with access to API standards and training, ensuring their oil and manufacturing industry is equipped with resources to help them meet the highest standards of safety, environmental protection and efficiency. To-date, the country has adopted 33 API standards as national Guyanese standards.

Suriname – Similarly poised for economic growth after its 2019 offshore oil find, API has engaged with Surinamese industry and regulators to proactively share industry best practices in anticipation of potential offshore oil production. In June 2023, API partnered with allied trade associations and Surinamese regulators to hold the Surinamese Offshore Oil & Gas Environment and Safety Workshop, which included an API-led session on standards and good regulatory practices. API continues to engage with industry leaders, regulators, and standards experts in Suriname to help strengthen its industry practices as they expand into offshore production.

Ukraine – The partnership between API and Ukraine illustrates how international cooperation can reshape and strengthen a nation's energy landscape. In 2022, less than a year after it was invaded by Russia, Ukraine’s leading standardization body, the Ukrainian Scientific Center for Standardization, Certification and Quality Problems (SE “UkrNDNC”), signed an MOU with API to promote the adoption of API natural gas and oil standards and forge closer cooperation across a range of training and safety activities. Ten months later, recognizing the imminent need for broader adoption of global standards, PJSC Ukrnafta (Ukrnafta), Ukraine's largest oil company, signed an MOU to enhance Ukraine's energy independence and its transition away from Russian equipment and standards. "This, in fact, without exaggeration, is a breakthrough for the company,” said a Ukrnafta spokesperson. “In 2023, Ukrnafta signed a memorandum with The American Petroleum Institute [API] and set a course for international standards of production and service and replacement of outdated Russian, Belarusian and Soviet equipment with the best modern technologies.” These MOUs illustrate the importance of collaboration in shaping a brighter and more prosperous future.

India – Earlier this year, API signed an MOU with the Federation of Indian Petroleum Industry (FIPI), India’s umbrella organization for companies operating in the hydrocarbon sector. (All major companies operating in India’s energy sector are FIPI members.) The strategic partnership establishes greater cooperation between API and FIPI, developing relationships with India’s key industry stakeholders as it introduces them to API standards and programs. Key objectives of the MOU include sharing knowledge, collaborating on key events and driving innovation across the natural gas and oil industry, all aimed at transforming operational practices to the highest standards worldwide. One way it plans to accomplish this is by facilitating the adoption and implementation of API standards within India’s energy industry.

Greater cooperation, greater progress

As we look to the future, API is well positioned to foster even greater global collaboration and advance the implementation of robust (and consistent) industry standards. As we sign MOUs and host additional workshops, our goal is to drive innovation while enhancing safety and sustainability throughout industry operations. Collectively, these efforts build on our past successes and seek to unite stakeholders worldwide, sharing knowledge and good practices as we help shape the world’s energy future. By embracing cooperation, we move beyond the limitations of self-interest and build a more secure and sustainable energy future for all.