The Council of Petroleum Accountants Societies, Inc. (COPAS) was established in 1961 by representatives from various independent local societies throughout the U.S. and Western Canada. In accordance with COPAS’ mission to provide expertise for the oil and gas industry through the development of accounting procedures, publications and education, COPAS initiated the Accredited Petroleum Accountant® (APA®) certification program in 1996. Its purpose is to certify accountants within the oil and gas industry and to ensure that practicing petroleum accountants are proficient in the basic elements of knowledge essential for oil and gas accounting.
In 1996, the original design of the program was a series of eight knowledge-based exams covering the areas of Operations, Law, Financial Reporting, Audit, Joint Interest, Managerial Accounting, Tax, and Revenue. A job analysis study was performed in 2014 to enhance the benefits of the credential to the oil and gas accounting profession by ensuring that the exam was assessing the key knowledge required by practicing petroleum accountants. The results of that study resulted in the development of a single certification exam (effective January 1, 2016) covering five content domains that were determined to be essential for competent practice as a petroleum accountant.