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Based in Washington, DC, the American Petroleum Institute, commonly referred to as API, is the main U.S trade association for the oil and natural gas industry, representing about 400 corporations involved in production, refinement, distribution, and many other aspects of the industry.

The association’s chief functions on behalf of the industry include advocacy and negotiation with governmental, legal, and regulatory agencies; research into economic, toxicological, and environmental effects; establishment and certification of industry standards; and education outreach. API both funds and conducts research related to many aspects of the petroleum industry.

API distributes more than 200,000 copies of its publications each year. The publications, technical standards, and electronic and online products are designed to help users improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of their operations, comply with legislative and regulatory requirements, and safeguard health, ensure safety, and protect the environment. Each publication is overseen by a committee of leading industry professionals. API's publications are developed by member company engineers and other professionals.

For example, API 610 is the specification for centrifugal pumps, API 682 governs mechanical seals, and API 677 is the standard for gear units. API also defines the industry standard for the energy conservation of motor oil. API SM is the latest specification to which motor oils intended for spark-ignited engines should adhere since 2004. It supersedes API SL. Different specifications exist for compression-ignited engines.

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