PETEX history

A brief history of CIE’s Petroleum Extension Service (PETEX)


John Woodruff began employment at the university on January 1, 1944, a date that marks the unofficial beginning of the Petroleum Extension Service (PETEX). Although it would be years before PETEX took its modern form, Woodruff would serve at the helm of the organization as its director for nearly 25 years.

Prior to 1944, there was considerable interest in providing training for oil industry workers. Support came from the federal level with the passage of the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917, a law that earmarked federal funds to states to promote vocational training. Representatives from the American Petroleum Institute (API) met with training representatives from Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas in 1933 to discuss partnerships and plans for providing oil industry training. The states and API piloted several oil industry vocational training programs during the years leading to, during, and after WWII.

In 1942, Woodruff, working for the state of Texas’s oil industry training programs, drafted a training plan and submitted it to James Eddy, State Supervisor of Training and Industrial Education. Eddy presented the plan to the university, which was looking to create an oil industry training program. The university accepted and Eddy eventually came to the university as Dean of the Division of Extension. He appointed Woodruff as the Coordinator for Petroleum Industry Training, thus beginning PETEX. By the end of 1944, approximately 830 men had enrolled in PETEX courses.

As class enrollments and requests for more specialized training materials increased, PETEX continued to expand and grow. Training centers were opened in Odessa, Kilgore, and Houston. In addition to the partnership with API, working relationships were established with the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) and energy companies such as Sun Oil, Exxon, Mobil, and Shell, whose employees served on various API and other committees that lent direct guidance and support to PETEX.

New schools on pipeline technology, gas technology, offshore technology, petroleum measurement, and drilling technology were introduced. PETEX staff also produced a variety of multi-format training materials that nicely complemented real-world industrial instruments and equipment. Notable publications, some of which have seen numerous updates through the years, included primers on well servicing, pipeline construction, offshore operations, petroleum geology, artificial lift methods and PETEX’s mainstay, “Fundamentals of Petroleum.”

Today, PETEX is recognized worldwide as a leading source of oil and gas industry training. In 2009, over 1,200 students attended PETEX schools, representing all sectors of the industry such as insurance, exploration and production, and measurement. PETEX continues to offer worldwide training at client locations, in such locales as Argentina, Trinidad and Tobago, Kenya, Ghana, and Dubai. PETEX schools are also offered locally at training centers in Houston and the recently reopened Odessa facility. And PETEX publications continue to be authored by leading subject matter experts.

As a new generation of energy workers takes over, bringing new ideas, methods, and technologies, PETEX is poised to offer modern, world-class training for the ever-evolving energy industry.

Click on any of the images below to be open a photo gallery from PETEX's history. Select "Stop Slideshow" to pause on any of the images.

John Woodruff

Ribbon-cutting ceremony

A meeting between PETEX and IMP

Marvin Jones of Cameron

An instructor from Texaco

Don Stokely

Instructor Willin Finley (right) and C. Creison at the Kilgore

Former PETEX director Ron Baker

PETEX has a global reach


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