ISO standards progress in oil and gas sector


ISO International Standards for the oil and gas sector are not only being increasingly adopted by regional or national standards bodies in North and South America, China, Europe, the Gulf states, Kazakhstan and Russia, but also increasingly referenced in national regulations.

This progression is made in cooperation with the Standards Committee of the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (OGP) whose members in 80 countries produce more than half of the world's oil and about one third of its gas.

The OGP strongly supports international standards for the petroleum and natural gas industries and actively promotes the development and use of ISO International Standards, as well as those of its partner the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

ISO standards for the sector are primarily developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 67, Materials, equipment and offshore structures for petroleum, petrochemical and natural gas industries, in which hundreds of experts from 29 countries participate, with another 30 countries as observers. In 2009, 21 new or revised standards were produced by ISO/TC 67 and 23 are planned for first publication or revision by the end of 2010. Currently, the TC's portfolio comprises 145 standards, plus updates.

For industry, International Standards reduce costs and delivery times, and facilitate trade across borders by replacing the multiplicity of existing industry, regional and national standards, as well as specifications developed by individual companies.

An example is the three-part ISO 21809 on pipeline coatings which, by providing a consistent and unified approach for implementation worldwide, replaces multiple existing specifications and so cuts costs and complications for the oil and gas sector.

ISO highlites the successful example provided by Russia which in 2008 based 11 national standards on ISO standards.

For regulators, International Standards provide the technical basis for regulations, while achieving high levels of safety because standards are continually reviewed to maintain them at the state of the art. Standards thus play an important role in the technical definition of safety levels set by regulators for oil and gas installations.