How can I access Oracle from Python?


How can I access Oracle from Python? I have downloaded a cx_Oracle msi installer, but Python can't import the library.

I get the following error:

import cx_Oracle

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<pyshell#1>", line 1, in <module>
    import cx_Oracle
ImportError: DLL load failed: The specified module could not be found.

I will be grateful for any help.

4/26/2013 2:59:45 PM

Here's what worked for me. My Python and Oracle versions are slightly different from yours, but the same approach should apply. Just make sure the cx_Oracle binary installer version matches your Oracle client and Python versions.

My versions:

  • Python 2.7
  • Oracle Instant Client 11G R2
  • cx_Oracle 5.0.4 (Unicode, Python 2.7, Oracle 11G)
  • Windows XP SP3


  1. Download the Oracle Instant Client package. I used Unzip it to C:\your\path\to\instantclient_11_2
  2. Download and run the cx_Oracle binary installer. I used cx_Oracle-5.0.4-11g-unicode.win32-py2.7.msi. I installed it for all users and pointed it to the Python 2.7 location it found in the registry.
  3. Set the ORACLE_HOME and PATH environment variables via a batch script or whatever mechanism makes sense in your app context, so that they point to the Oracle Instant Client directory. See oracle_python.bat source below. I'm sure there must be a more elegant solution for this, but I wanted to limit my system-wide changes as much as possible. Make sure you put the targeted Oracle Instant Client directory at the beginning of the PATH (or at least ahead of any other Oracle client directories). Right now, I'm only doing command-line stuff so I just run oracle_python.bat in the shell before running any programs that require cx_Oracle.
  4. Run regedit and check to see if there's an NLS_LANG key set at \HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ORACLE. If so, rename the key (I changed it to NLS_LANG_OLD) or unset it. This key should only be used as the default NLS_LANG value for Oracle 7 client, so it's safe to remove it unless you happen to be using Oracle 7 client somewhere else. As always, be sure to backup your registry before making changes.
  5. Now, you should be able to import cx_Oracle in your Python program. See the source below. Note that I had to set the connection and SQL strings to Unicode for my version of cx_Oracle.

Source: oracle_python.bat

@echo off
set ORACLE_HOME=C:\your\path\to\instantclient_11_2


import cx_Oracle

conn_str = u'user/password@host:port/service'
conn = cx_Oracle.connect(conn_str)
c = conn.cursor()
c.execute(u'select your_col_1, your_col_2 from your_table')
for row in c:
    print row[0], "-", row[1]

Possible Issues:

  • "ORA-12705: Cannot access NLS data files or invalid environment specified" - I ran into this before I made the NLS_LANG registry change.
  • "TypeError: argument 1 must be unicode, not str" - if you need to set the connection string to Unicode.
  • "TypeError: expecting None or a string" - if you need to set the SQL string to Unicode.
  • "ImportError: DLL load failed: The specified procedure could not be found." - may indicate that cx_Oracle can't find the appropriate Oracle client DLL.
1/24/2011 4:33:17 PM

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