Continuing education courses in petroleum engineering are offered through several channels, some of which are open to the general profession and some of which are arranged on a private basis for selected clients. The principal sources for these courses are (1) the major oil producing companies, (2) the academic petroleum engineering departments, (3) individuals and organizations engaged in continuing education for profit, and (4) the Society of Petroleum Engineers. The petroleum engineering profession generally is aware of the availability of continuing education courses through these channels, but no group within the profession provides a comprehensive clearinghouse function. There is a lack of information on the scope and totality of the activity and this paper is intended to assist in filling that need.

Early in its development, the petroleum industry recognized that the practitioners of petroleum engineering needed to have a first hand knowledge of the natural situations from which oil was produced and of the manner in which those situations influenced the application of basic engineering concepts. This led, in the first quarter of the century, to the establishment of company training programs, which at first were concerned with the operational techniques of drilling for and producing petroleum rather than with engineering concepts. According to the API History of Petroleum Engineering the first such organized activity began in 1916 as the Doherty Training School associated with the Empire Gas and Fuel Company at Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

Universities in the petroleum regions also played a role in the development of technological personnel for the industry by offering special short term training programs such as the Natural Gas Measurement Course at the University of Oklahoma, or by conducting organized extension courses in the field that were patterned after the agricultural model. An extension program in oil and gas production that existed at Penn State as early as the 1930s is now extinct, but an organized Petroleum Extension Service is still operated by the University of Texas.

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