The oil industry exemplifies mankind's search for resource sin a harsh environment here on the earth. Traditionally, the oil industry has created technological solutions to increasingly difficult exploration, drilling, and production activities as the need has arisen. The depths to which a well must be drilled to produce the finite hydrocarbon resources are increasing and the surface environments during oil and gas activities is the key to success, not information that is hours old or incomplete; but 'real-time' data that responds to the variable environment downhole and allows prediction and prevention. The difference that information makes can be the difference between a successfully drilled well and a blowout that causes permanent damage to the reservoir and may reduce the value of the reserves downhole. The difference that information makes can make the difference between recovering 22 percent of the hydrocarbon reserves in a profitable field and recovering none of the reserves because of an uneconomic bottom line. Sensors of every type are essential in the new oil and gas industry and they must be rugged, accurate, affordable, and long lived. It is not just for the sophisticated majors exploring the very deep waters of the world but for the thousands of independent producers who provide a lion's share of the oil and gas produced in the US domestic market. The Department of Energy has been instrumental in keeping reserves from being lost by funding advancements in sensor technology. Due to sponsorship by the Federal Government, the combined efforts of researchers in the National Laboratories, academic institutions, and industry research centers are producing increasingly accurate tools capable of functioning in extreme conditions with economics acceptable to the accountants of the industry. Three examples of such senors developed with Federal funding are given.