Fundamentals of Petroleum

Evolution of a Best-Seller: “Fundamentals of Petroleum” Prepares for 2010 Release


In the 1970s, the average American realized how oil affected everyday life. Crude oil prices spiked to their highest ever, and Americans had to wait in line for gasoline. The high price of oil spurred new exploration for oil, and producing states like Texas experienced an economic boom. By this time, PETEX had established itself in the oil and gas industry as a quality provider of training books and courses. But even within the industry, there was a growing market niche waiting to be filled.

As the oil and gas industry grew, a large number of new workers in administrative roles flooded the ranks in need of broad, reliable knowledge they could obtain quickly. Many of these new workers had no direct experience with the oil patch but were called upon to understand the processes, equipment, and jargon of the field.

Just over 30 years ago, the Association of Desk and Derrick Clubs, a national organization of administrative oil and gas industry workers, approached PETEX about creating a book that gives general workers a basic overview of the entire industry, using an approach that laypeople can understand. PETEX agreed, and the first edition of Fundamentals of Petroleum was born.

Now entering its fifth edition, the book has expanded its reach from its core audience of administrators to address the educational needs of a wider range of industry personnel, from accountants and bankers to insurance agents and executives. Its breadth of coverage provides a valuable reference for all oil industry professionals, some of whom are so specialized that they have limited exposure to other aspects of the industry.

Fundamentals of Petroleum is considered PETEX’s signature publication and has remained a perennial top-seller. Interestingly, throughout its three decades of publication, evolving editions and increasingly diverse audience, the book has stayed remarkably close to the original concept. Today, the book supports educational programs of many types. Not only is it a tool for the companion course PETEX holds semiannually, but it serves as a textbook for some petroleum engineering and technology schools, including the university’s petroleum engineering program.

The newest release still tells the end-to-end story of petroleum, from geology and exploration all the way through drilling, production, and distribution. This 2010 edition will also be available as an e-book, and there will be a separate e-assessment tool to test what readers learned.

Among the prominent industry experts contributing to the book are three of the university’s own—Drs. Paul Bommer (senior lecturer, petroleum engineering), Michael Webber (assistant professor, mechanical engineering), and Christopher Zahm (research associate, Bureau of Economic Geology of the Jackson School). The upcoming edition includes new content on cutting-edge technologies, petroleum economics, and alternative energy. Also featured is expanded content on well control and safety and environmental concerns, especially timely inclusions considering the recent developments in the Gulf of Mexico.

Oil was headline news in the 1970s and remains so today. Volatile gasoline prices, climate change legislation, speculation about peak oil, and the incident in the Gulf are just a few of the ways oil and gas affects our lives and our futures. More than ever, oil and gas are everyone’s business, and with the 5th Edition of Fundamentals of Petroleum, PETEX hopes to continue explaining the essentials of the industry to an ever-wider audience.


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