COPAS: Promoting Best Accounting Practices in Oil and Gas

COPAS: Promoting Best Accounting Practices in Oil and Gas

4 Min.

The Council of Petroleum Accountants Societies (COPAS) is a non-profit organization founded in 1961 to resolve accounting challenges in the oil and gas industry. With 4,000+ members in the US and Canada, COPAS has established guidelines and publications for efficient accounating practices. It also offers educational events, certification exams, and industry-focused committees.


The Council of Petroleum Accountants Societies plays a crucial role in promoting best accounting practices within the oil and gas industry. Established in 1961, this non-profit professional organization has a rich history of providing guidance and education to accountants dealing with the unique challenges inherent in this sector. COPAS operates in both the United States and Canada, with a membership of over 4,000 individuals spread across 26 societies. These members come from diverse backgrounds, including government agencies, universities, consulting firms, and companies involved in oil and gas exploration and production.

Organizational Structure

COPAS's effectiveness is largely attributed to its well-organized structure. The organization comprises several standing committees, each covering a broad area, while sub-committees handle more specific facets of the oil and gas industry. The association is governed by a board of nine members, each serving a three-year term, who oversee its operations.

Accounting Guidelines and Practices

One of the most significant contributions of COPAS to the industry is the development of standardized guidelines, procedures, and best practices for accounting in the oil and gas sector. These guidelines encompass various aspects of accounting, including joint interest accounting, auditing, production volume, revenue accounting, financial reporting, and tax considerations. These standardized practices are not only adopted by numerous organizations within the industry but also serve as models for some government agencies when framing their rules and procedures.

Comprehensive Services

COPAS extends its influence through various services and activities that help accountants in the industry stay updated on current accounting practices. These services include:


COPAS issues publications that keep accountants informed about the latest accounting practices in the oil and gas industry. For instance, one of these publications provides a comprehensive outline of how to accurately account for natural gas at each stage of production.

Educational Events

COPAS organizes monthly luncheons, workshops, webinars, and annual four-day education events, primarily aimed at new industry accountants. These events offer a platform for professionals to learn, network, and exchange insights.

APA Program

In 1996, COPAS introduced the Accredited Petroleum Accountant Program (APA), which certifies qualified accountants working in the oil and gas industry. Initially consisting of eight knowledge-based exams, the system was refined in 2016 to a single comprehensive exam that covers all aspects of the petroleum industry. The APA certification is valid for one year and must be renewed by fulfilling a required number of education hours. To be eligible for the APA, candidates must hold a four-year degree with 12 credit hours in Accounting, as well as one year of experience in the oil and gas industry. Alternatively, candidates can qualify with five or more years of work experience in the oil and gas sector.

COPAS's Committees

A vital part of COPAS's work is conducted through its committees, which focus on researching and reporting critical industry issues. These committees are integral in developing guidelines and publications to guide accountants in the field. There are 27 committees and subcommittees listed on the COPAS website, each with its unique focus, ranging from Bylaws and Regulatory Affairs to Social Media.

Audit Committee

The Audit Committee takes responsibility for identifying any issues that may arise during the implementation or interpretation of COPAS audit protocols in the petroleum industry. This committee plays a pivotal role in revising or assisting other committees in issuing COPAS publications related to oil and gas auditing.

Small Oil and Gas Companies Committee

This committee addresses the unique problems and concerns faced by smaller enterprises operating in the oil and gas industry. It develops guidelines, checklists, and other publications essential for helping smaller staffed companies comply with industry standards. Furthermore, the committee conducts educational seminars to benefit these companies.


The Council of Petroleum Accountants Societies is a key organization in the oil and gas industry, dedicated to improving accounting practices and standards. With its organized structure, wide range of services, and specialized committees, COPAS provides valuable support to over 4,000 members, ensuring that industry accountants have the latest knowledge and guidance. COPAS also promotes excellence and professionalism in oil and gas accounting through standardized guidelines and the prestigious Accredited Petroleum Accountant program.

Council of Petroleum Accountants Societies (COPAS)
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