The EI technical programme – based on sound science since 1914


Courtesy of Courtesy of Energy Institute (EI)

The technical programme has always been a cornerstone of the EI, stretching back many decades into its predecessor institutes. Here, Martin Maeso looks back at some of the early technical work streams, some of which are still with us, and how they have evolved into today’s technical programme.

It will not have escaped many reading this edition of EnergyWorld that we are in the centenary year of the Energy Institute. Looking back to the start of 1914, when Arch Duke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, the Duchess of Hohenburg were still alive and well, and Gavrilo Princip was yet to spark the start of the Great War, the Energy Institute, in its first incarnation as the Institution of Petroleum Technologists, was formed in the UK.

A quote from Mining Magazine, reporting at the time, described the Institution of Petroleum Technologists (IPT) as having: ‘The sole aim [of advancing] the scientific treatment of petroleum problems in their geological, chemical, and mining aspects, and to promote the better training of the future leaders of the petroleum industry.’

From the very first moment of the Institute the focus has been the promotion of sound science and skills development. This ethos is still core within today’s Energy Institute, the purpose of which is to still develop good practice, skills and knowledge for the wider energy community and for the public good.

Early publications

In its first incarnation as the IPT the Institute’s main vehicle for disseminating scientific information and knowledge was through its journal, the Journal of the Institution of Petroleum Technologists. This contained lengthy articles of a scientific and technical nature that aimed to bring clarity and solutions to a number of the problems being experienced by the petroleum industry of the day. These articles were almost exclusively authored by members of the Institute, and as is still the case today, in 1914 the Institute was heavily focused, and reliant on, its members. It was, and is, a members’ led Institute.

Between the wars, the IPT also began to publish a number of technical reports, reflecting issues of the time. These include The petroleum industry: A brief survey of the technology of petroleum based upon a course of lectures given by members of the Institution of Petroleum Technologists on the occasion of the Petroleum Exhibition, Crystal Palace, 1920.

Also published in 1924 was the Report of the Empire motor fuels committee – embodying other allied researches. This was described as containing ‘a complete review of the subject of fuels for use in high-speed internal combustion engines so far as it is known to-day.’

By the time we reach the mid-20s we start to see titles that are still published by the Energy Institute (EI) today. Chief among these is Standard methods of testing petroleum and its products, published in 1924. At the time the preface for this stated that: ‘The suggestion that the Institution of Petroleum Technologists, as the premier society in this country dealing with petroleum technology, should concern itself with the standardisation of methods of tests, was first mooted in a letter to the late Sir Boverton Redwood (then President) in 1917. At that time, although the Council was in favour of taking action it was felt that war conditions precluded the securing of the attention necessary to the work. It was not until May, 1921, that the Standardisation Committee was appointed.’

A second edition of this was published in 1929, and this centenary year we will be publishing our 72nd edition, as IP Standard Methods for analysis and testing of petroleum and related products, and British Standard 2000 Parts, 2013.

Measurement, as is the case today, was a key area of focus in 1932 with the Measurement of oil in bulk: Part 1 Standard weights and measures, setting out guidance in this key area for industry.

The role of the EI as a facilitating body for others also has its roots back in its first incarnation. In 1934 the IPT published World Petroleum Congress proceedings Volume 1 and 2: Organised by the Institution of Petroleum Technologists held at the imperial college of science and technology South Kensington, London July 19th–25th, 1933: Geological and production sections (Vol 1) and refining, chemical and testing (Vol 2).

If you were to look in this year’s catalogue you would see the EI has published proceedings from the latest and 20th World Petroleum Congress (WPC), held in Doha, Qatar in December 2011. The EI will also be attending WPC 21, to be held in Moscow this June.

As the century progressed the Institute evolved and developed to cover a much wider range of activities relevant to its membership base. In addition to measurement and testing, issues such as corrosion, fuel spoilage and wider distribution of crude and refined product began to appear. The IPT evolved into the Institute of Petroleum in 1938, which then merged in 2003 with the similarly long standing Institute of Energy (formerly the Institute of Fuels) to form the Energy Institute.

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