Highlights from the Fall 2015 API Refining Standards Meeting: Subcommittee on Inspection (SCI)

By John Reynolds at Intertek. January 4, 2016

Inspection Summit Planning Committee

  • The 2017 API Inspection Summit will be held the week of January 30 – February 2, at the Galveston Convention Center (GCC);
    • Due to its growing popularity, this event will likely move to another venue for the 2019 Summit. We are simply outgrowing the GCC and will need to take some steps to avoid overcrowding at the 2017 meeting.
  • The Inspection Summit has increased in attendance nearly 30% each time it is held. We expect that to be the case again in 2017. The quality and quantity of information presented on asset integrity management, inspection/NDE, damage mechanisms, and engineering analysis continues to be highly regarded by attendees. This reputation continues to spread and bring in new people.
  • The timeline for submitting and approving presentations will be earlier this coming year from previous years. The Call for Presentations will first go out in early March 2016, with the deadline for submitting abstracts at the end of May. This will provide the Planning Committee sufficient time to review the quality of abstracts and slide presentations prior to the end of the year.
  • The format of the next Summit will generally be the same as 2015’s event, with a few improvements to keep it interesting. We’ve decided not to make any major changes since the format of previous Summits has been so successful Inspectioneering will once again be the Official Media Sponsor
  • of the Inspection Summit, and the primary source for advance event information leading up to the 2017 conference.

Subcommittee on Inspection (API SCI)

  • About 10% of certified API inspectors have not yet switched their old paper-based certification account to the new online portal, which is constantly being improved. If you have not yet switched, you must do so very soon or you will not be able to recertify when your certification expires—it will only take 10 minutes. All accounts have already been uploaded to the new porta—certified inspectors simple have to log in and confirm theirs. API has tried numerous times to contact all those who have not switched to the new online portal, however about 2300 accounts remain unconfirmed. All certified inspectors should be aware that the old paper system will soon be shut down and when that happens, those that have not acknowledged their new accounts will lose their certifications when it comes time for renewal.
  • The 4th edition of API 570 is in the final stage of proof review before publication. There are a number of changes and improvements to the technologies and methodologies described in the new edition. So when it becomes available, be sure to make sure everyone at your site is aware of the changes. API hopes to publish this latest edition by early 2016.
  • A new task group has been formed within the SCI to update and improve the inspection portion of each damage mechanism section in API RP 571. The format will remain the same, but the inspection guidance will be updated relative to many new NDE techniques and methodologies in use today. Up to this point, the API SCI has not been involved in approving this document as the document’s home committee has been the Subcommittee on Corrosion/Materials.
  • The 4th edition of API RP 572 on Inspection of Pressure Vessels is also in its final ballot stages. This document is expected to be published the first quarter of 2016.
  • The 4th edition of API RP 574 on Inspection of Piping is in the final stage of proof-reading, after having passed its final ballot. Hopefully it will be published simultaneously with API 570 early next year.
  • The 4th edition of API RP 576 on Inspection of Pressure Relieving Devices is also in its final ballot stages. The remaining comments and issues were resolved in this meeting. It will have one more reaffirmation ballot and should also publish in the first quarter of 2016. 
  • API RP 578 on positive material identification (PMI) is in the early stages of updating for the 3rd edition. One major change is that the document will be expanded beyond just alloy piping to all types of fixed equipment, including some non-alloy piping (e.g. carbon steel) for residual elements. A new title has also been proposed: “Guidelines for a Material Verification Program for New and Existing Assets.” The task group expects to issue the first ballot in the first quarter of 2016. A few emerging PMI technologies will be added, as well as a section on radiation safety for XRF (x-ray fluorescence) analyzers. It will go to its first ballot next year and is probably about two years away from publication.
  • The next edition of API RP 580 on RBI is in final page proof review stage with publication also anticipated early next year. The major change in this document is that some 40+ “shoulds” have officially been changed to “shalls”, meaning that for those sites using RBI, there are a number of steps in the RBI work process that are becoming mandatory. It too is expected to publish in early 2016.
  • API RP 581 is also in its final proof page stage after passing all ballots. It too is expected to publish in early 2016. A large number of changes are included.
  • A new standard API RP 586 on NDE Techniques is being created. It will provide inspectors with information on which NDE techniques are best able to detect different kinds of damage, in different types of equipment, and in different locations. The task group anticipates that this will eventually be a fairly large document that other API standards will refer to for information on NDE techniques for inspection plans. It will cover the capabilities, advantages, and disadvantages of various NDE techniques. One of the first priorities is going to be the section on heat exchanger tubular inspection techniques to help inspectors understand the various pros and cons of the multitude of techniques available for detecting corrosion and cracking in exchanger tubes.
  • A new API Publication 587 – Guidance for the development of UT Examiner Qualification Program is in progress. The purpose of this publication is to outline a program that would be necessary for owner-users to create their own program for angle beam examiners if they choose not to use API qualified industry examiners (i.e. QUTE/QUSE).
  • Another new document is underway - API RP 970 on Corrosion Control Documents (CCD’s) it will describe the work process to create a comprehensive CCD. Although it will not be mandatory, this is widely considered to be a best practice. The first ballot is expected this coming spring for initial ballot resolution at the API Spring Standards meeting in Chicago next May.
  • Section 3 of API RP 751 on Safe Operation of HF Alky Process Units which covers inspection, materials, corrosion and fabrication of HF handling equipment (among other things) will undergo a significant rewrite this winter in preparation for publication of the 5th edition.

API Inspection Certification Program (ICP) Task Group

  • The idea of having a senior inspector certification program (something with more detail and more difficulty than the current entry level exams) was voted down. Instead, the task group has decided to focus its attention on new specialty certifications like we currently have for API 571, 577 and 580. These programs have proven to be very popular with inspectors and engineers who want to show they have gained considerable expertise in each of the subject matters. Consideration is now being given to creating a program for API 576 on PRD’s and API 573 on Inspection of Heaters and Boilers. Like the three in existence so far, all programs will continue to be entirely optional.
  • 300+ new source inspectors for fixed equipment have now been certified to the new Source Inspector Certification Program. The ICP expects to add modules for certifying source inspectors for electrical gear and rotating equipment next year.
  • ICP TRENDS - The 570 certification program is becoming ever more popular while the 653 certification program is slowing down in the number of applicants. The numbers of candidates for the 510 certification program is holding steady. This year, the total number of API certification applicants in the United States fell below the numbers coming from all countries outside the U.S. 

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