In late 2004, a focused effort was begun to update the 1997 SPE/WPC Petroleum Reserves Definitions and the 2000 SPE/WPC/AAPG Petroleum Resources Classification and Definitions. The evolution of the industry, driven by advancements in technology, the international expansion of the E&P sector and the increasing role of unconventional resources in meeting global energy needs, drove the requirement to update what had served the industry well for the last 10 years.

The 2007 system builds on previous industry efforts to provide sufficient guidance to achieve a high level of consistency in estimating resource quantities; it incorporates best practices identified in other international petroleum and minerals classification systems. It recommends a rigorous approach based on applying a series of defined projects to hydrocarbon-bearing reservoirs. Resource classes are defined according to the maturity of the applied projects expressed as qualitatively or quantitatively as the chance of reach producing status. Within each resource class, the relative uncertainty in the estimated quantities that may be recovered by each project under those conditions forecast to exist during its implementation are denoted by assignment to categories. Assessments may be conducted using deterministic and/or probabilistic methods.

In order to satisfy requirements of the full range of industry stakeholders, the 2007 system introduces additional classification and categorization terminology. The resulting document is a set of technical guidelines that can be adapted by oil and gas companies to better manage their business; moreover, it forms a standard that can be referenced by government agencies in defining reporting requirements.

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