Our History

COPAS-LogoPASH is a Charter member, and one of the largest individual societies, of the twenty-four societies that comprise the Council of Petroleum Accountants Societies (COPAS). It is through COPAS that the petroleum industry is able to discuss problems, and solutions, receive oil and gas accounting/auditing training and education, and develop leadership.

The 50 Years of PASH

Courtesy of Richard A. McKee

The time was early 1952 in Houston, Texas. Houston, like the rest of the nation, had experienced seven years of steady growth as the country developed in a post-World War II growth spurt, due to the conversion of wartime business efforts to peacetime consumer production. The oil and gas industry was no exception. Accounting in the petroleum industry was also developing. Some early standard form lease agreements, operating agreements and accounting procedures were already in use but were somewhat localized with regard to application and dissemination. Agreements were more likely to parallel a true legal document with specific terms formulated to fit the situation.

It was in this environment that the idea for a local organization of petroleum accountants in Houston was initiated. The idea is said to have originated with Alfred F. Hagen of Shell Oil Company who had worked for Shell in California and had been a member of the petroleum accounting organization in Los Angeles, which had been in existence since 1926, and which was the earliest known local petroleum accounting organization. Two other early organizations developed in the Mid-Continent Area; Kansas in 1936 and Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1939. Hagen felt the need existed and the time had come to pursue such activity in Houston. Hagen proposed the action to two allies within the industry and the move was underway. The two persons generally given most of the credit for formation of the group were Robert E. (Bob) Lee of The Texas Company and Virgil L. Smith of Superior Oil Company.

Lee, Smith and Hagen contacted their contemporaries in other oil and gas companies to assess interest and prospective participation and to encourage both personal and company involvement. Many of the accountants contacted were receptive to the idea and an initial discussion meeting was held on May 19, 1952. At this meeting, with 28 charter members in attendance, the group decided a need existed for a petroleum accountant’s society.

The first regular meeting of PASH was held July 24, 1952, at the College Inn at 6545 South Main St. with 71 members and 6 guests present. At such time by-laws were presented for adoption and a proposed slate of directors were presented by a Nominating Committee chaired by E.M. Jacobs of The Texas Company. The proposed slate of directors was accepted and the following directors were elected:

3 Year Term

Alfred F. Hagen – Shell Oil Company
Robert E. Lee – The Texas Company
Virgil L. Smith – Superior Oil Company

2 Year Term

F.L. Freitag – Tennessee Production Co.
D.M. Withers – Standolind Oil and Gas Co.
C. Howard Phifer – L. D. Cain Drilling Co.

1 Year Term

E. A. Armentrout – Oil Drilling Inc.
A. L. Brown – Gulf Oil Co.
L. A. Pattillo – Union Producing Co.

Immediately after the general meeting the new Board of Directors met to elect officers. The officers elected to lead the new society were as follows:

President – Bob Lee
First Vice-President – Al Hagen
Second Vice-President – Virgil Smith
Secretary-Treasurer – Howard Phifer

The first scheduled meeting of the Board of Directors (BOD) was held August 1, 1952, at the Lamar Hotel. The BOD decided to hold all general and BOD meetings at the Lamar Hotel. Committee chairmen were appointed for the Program, Telephone and Membership Committees. The BOD also approved payment of PASH bills with the first invoice approved for payment being a bill from Premier Printing. Planning was initiated for the first general meeting. The meeting was held at the Lamar Hotel on September 11, 1952. The member cost for dinner and drinks was $3.00.

PASH, after 60 years in existence, has held regular general meetings at 6 different locations. From its inception until 1963 the location for the meetings was the Lamar Hotel. From 1963 until 1970 and again from later in 1970 until 1991 the location was The Petroleum Club located atop the Exxon Building in downtown Houston. For a very brief period in 1970 meetings were held at the Summit Club located at 1010 Jefferson St. in the downtown area. From 1991 through mid-1999 meetings were held at The Houstonian located on Post Oak Lane near the 610 Loop in Houston’s Galleria Area. From 1999 through mid-2009 meetings were held at the Houston City Club located in the Greenway Plaza Area. Due to a reduction of available space, we out grew the Houston City Club and moved to the Houston Club, downtown, at 811 Rusk in September 2009 where we remain.

From the first meeting with 71 members present, PASH membership steadily increased to 110 by the end of the first year of operation. It was 16 years before the membership passed the 200 mark, reaching 218 in 1968. The 70s saw tremendous growth in the oil and gas industry and Houston and PASH participated in that growth. PASH membership more than doubled, and had reached 538 in 1979. Two years later the total had soared to 667 and the average attendance at general meetings began to tax the meeting facilities at the Petroleum Club. The Board of Directors considered excluding guests from selected meetings due to the 350 maximum seating number for sit-down dinner at the Petroleum Club. The remaining 16 years of the Twentieth Century saw continual consolidation of industry companies and further depletion of once familiar companies that had been key suppliers of PASH members (Tenneco, Mobil, Amoco). Membership dropped annually, to slightly below 500 at the beginning of the Twenty-First Century. However, through mergers and consolidations many oil and gas functions were being transferred from smaller cities such as Midland, Denver, New Orleans and Lafayette to Houston. Many of the employees were transferred as well and those employees, or the new employees who replaced those not choosing to transfer to Houston, joined PASH. These events have helped stabilize membership in PASH in the mid-500 range.

From the very beginning PASH members have played an integral leadership role in the creation and operation of The Council of Petroleum Accountants Societies (COPAS). Along with the representatives from 8 other Societies, PASH was represented at a February 1961 meeting in Dallas for an exploratory meeting to discuss and authorize the association of the Societies with each other. From that meeting evolved a formation meeting held on April 25, 1961, in the Royal Room of the Sands Hotel in Midland. At that time, PASH’s own D.C. Hobart was elected President of the new organization. Over the past 50 years 15 members of PASH have served as President of COPAS, and several other members of PASH have served in that capacity while a member of another society.

PASH has been pleased to serve as a frequent host of the semi-annual COPAS National Meetings. Being named host society of the Spring 2011 COPAS National Meeting which was also the 50th anniversary of COPAS, marked the ninth time that PASH has performed that role.