What with collapsed oil and gas prices, a faltering economy and everyone with a case of the fantods, it is a real pleasure to get a piece of good news. And that is exactly what the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission's acceptance of a modernized set of rules governing oil and gas reserves reporting is. Announced on December 29, the move recognizes "the importance of new technologies in making accurate and reliable estimates of oil and natural gas reserves as the industry develops resources in harsher environments including ultra-deep water and the Arctic, as well as more unconventional resources," according to Leo Roodhart, 2009 president of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). The Petroleum Resources Management System (PRMS) was developed by SPE in collaboration with the World Petroleum Congress (WPC), the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) and the Society of Petroleum Evaluation Engineers (SPEE). The PRMS was initially issued in 2007. It updated and combined SPE's previous reserves and resources definitions and the associated glossary into a single document. To address the uncertainties of estimating a volume that cannot be seen or physically measured, the "PRMS incorporates a central framework that categorizes reserves and resources according to the level of uncertainty associated with their recoverable volumes" on a horizontal axis and "classifies them according to the potential for reaching commercial producting status" on a vertical axis. The horizontal axis divides reserves into the familiar proved, probable and possible classifications. The vertical axix categorizes reserves (actually resources, with reserves as a subset of resources) as production, reserves, contingent resources and prospective resources. According to SPE, "in order for volumes to move from one category to the next, the technical issues which cause them to be placed into less certain categories must be resolved. To view the full PRMS visit http://www.spe.org/spe-app/industry/reserves/index.htm