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Standards Inquiries

API receives numerous inquiries related to its standards, specifications, recommended practices, technical reports and codes (i.e. documents). While we can provide answers to many of these questions, there are certain categories of queries to which API cannot provide assistance. We use the terms “General and Technical Questions,” and “Requests for Interpretation” to describe the typical categories of questions we receive. The information below will help you understand what type of questions we can answer and how to go about submitting your question to us for consideration.

General Standards Questions

Requests for general information include but are not limited to publication dates, editions, price or availability. For general and purchasing information on all API Standards and Publications, visit our Publications Catalog. Please direct any other questions to the general standards and publications mailbox

Technical Questions and Requests for Interpretation

A technical question is a request of the “meaning, use or applicability” of the document. Technical questions are questions or requests that the American Petroleum Institute may not be able to answer. To see examples of technical questions that API does not respond to and to read the API policy on technical questions please see the Requests for Interpretation tab.

An Interpretation is a request for the “intent” of the document when the requirement is not obvious or stated. Requests for Interpretation must be submitted via the RFI website, the only organization authorized to issue interpretations on our standards.

API has posted some commonly asked interpretations based on industry segment. Please use the links below to see if your request is identified on the site.

Please read the guidelines for submission on the next tab prior to submitting your request for interpretation. If you are ready to submit your interpretation request, please visit the RFI website here.

The American Petroleum Institute Policy on Responding to Technical Inquiries

The American Petroleum Institute (API) cannot provide consulting advice on specific engineering problems or on the general understanding of its documents. Answers to these types of questions should be sought with the assistance of a consultant or engineering company familiar with the requirements of the standard.

In addition, API does not approve, recommend, or endorse any proprietary or specific design; nor does it limit the method of design or form of construction that might be used to conform to an API Standard.

Due to limited committee resources, API cannot respond to questions seeking the rationale for requirements in its documents. These requirements are based upon consideration of technical data and the judgment and skill of experienced engineering and technical personnel representing both users and manufacturers who serve on the standards-writing committees.

API Standards are not intended to cover applications in areas subject to regulations more stringent than the specifications in a specific Standard. When an API Standard is specified, it should be followed insofar as it does not conflict with local requirements. The purchaser is responsible for specifying any applicable jurisdictional requirements.

Examples below are of technical questions to which API does NOT respond:

Example #1: Request for consulting on specific engineering problem.

Please clarify: Is it acceptable to specify Internal Design Pressure as +75 mm of Water Column and vacuum as -25 mm of water column for API 650 Floating Roof Tanks meeting all requirements of Appendix "C".

Example #2: Request for consulting on specific engineering problem and general understanding of the standard.

We are in the process of repairing a defective (corroded) spiral stairway of a fuel tank by means of cold weld (bolts and nuts) connection on repaired portion. Is this method acceptable to the API standards since we cannot conduct electric welding because the fuel tank is at 60% filled up?

Example #3: Request referred to local authority having regulatory jurisdiction.

I live in London and recently a gas station had one of its underground tanks cleaned. Next day our property next to it was full of petrol fumes. The contractors who cleaned it attended the scene and advised that the 'vent' must have been shut and fumes had permeated the soil and into our property. Do you have any advice how I should pursue this?

The American Petroleum Institute Guidelines for Requests for Interpretation

All requests for interpretation should:

  • Identify a specific API Document (Specification, Standard, Recommended Practice, etc)
    (Note: API only provides interpretations on API normative requirements. API does not provide interpretations on informative language or on any requirements in a referenced document within the API document)
  • Identify the Edition of the API Document
  • Identify the Clause, Table, Figure or Annex that is the basis for the request for interpretation
  • Be limited to a single subject or closely related subjects
  • Be stated as briefly and precisely as possible (Note: background or justification may be provided along with the question but interpretations will not comment on such information provided.)
  • Be in the form of a “yes” or “no” question *
  • Be technically and editorially correct
  • Be related to the current edition of the document in question (Note: API will not issue interpretations on superseded or withdrawn documents)

The answer to a question about the factual content of a document is not an interpretation, nor are interpretations intended to solicit engineering information on the use or application of any API document.

If it is determined that the query is a valid request for an interpretation, you will be advised accordingly by email. In the event that the request does not meet the requisite criteria, you will be advised as well.

Due to the nature of interpretation requests and the time required for technical and legal review, API cannot guarantee a turnaround time for responding to these requests. Due to required committee review responses to requests for interpretation can take up to 12 months.

Please be sure to check the API website for completed interpretations.

In some cases, similar questions have been previously submitted and the responses may be useful. Please click here when you are ready to submit your Request for Interpretation.