Reynolds Wrap Up: Highlights from the API Subcommittee on Inspection and Mechanical Integrity (SCIMI) Meetings at the Fall 2017 API Standards Meeting

By John Reynolds at Intertek. December 19, 2017

Inspection and Mechanical Integrity Summit Planning Meeting

  • The seventh API Inspection and Mechanical Integrity (IMI) Summit will be held the week of January 28 – 31, 2019 at the Galveston Convention Center (mark your calendars now); initial planning meetings are underway.
  • The name has changed to include Mechanical Integrity, which better reflects the scope of the Summit and will once again cover the three main business sectors:
    • Downstream (Refining and Petrochemical),
    • Midstream (Terminals, Gas Plants, and Pipelines),
    • Upstream (Exploration and Production).
  • Each business sector will again cover three main Inspection and Mechanical Integrity Tracks:
    • Corrosion and Damage Mechanism Management,
    • Inspection and NDE,
    • Engineering and Asset Integrity Programs.
  • Several new ideas were tabled at this meeting to further enhance the value of the Summit, including moving toward 30 minute presentations instead of 45 minutes, allowing more presentations to be included in the Summit.
  • First call for Summit Presentations will be issued in early March 2018. Presenters should start thinking about what they would like to present.
  • The Summit will kick off with IMI training courses on Monday and attendees can sign up to attend any of the offered courses that may be of interest.
  • Inspectioneering Journal will once again be our media partner and a primary source for advance information for the 2019 IMI Summit. Stay tuned.

API SCIMI Activities

Here’s a summary of the status of all the codes and standards currently in progress within the API SCIMI. Please use the latest editions of each document, as the new editions are considerably improved and updated.  There are anywhere from 40-50 SCIMI SMEs, from as many different companies and consultants,  working continuously to improve and update these standards with what are believed to be industry best practices.  If you would like to join these efforts, please feel free to attend our semi-annual API SCIMI meetings held in April/May and November timeframes of each year at the API Refining Standards Meetings.  You do not have to be an API member to participate.  All contributors who can help maintain and improve the standards are welcome. Our next API Standards meeting is April 16-18, 2018 at the Seattle Sheraton.  If you cannot attend, but have suggestions for changes that you would like to have considered for the next editions, please send them to me or your own SCIMI member.

  • Work has begun on the 11th edition of API 510 Pressure Vessel Inspection Code which is not due for next publication until 2019; but several ballot items were discussed and passed at this meeting including a significant update to the section on deferrals of inspection activities. Also discussed was a request from the USA FAA to include the application of unmanned aerial systems (UAS aka drones) for inspection purposes.  No specifics agreed to at this point.  Addenda no. 1 of the 10th edition was issued in May, 2017.  API 510 and API 572 are sister documents and will be worked in tandem from now on, in order to keep them consistent with each other and to minimize duplication.
  • The 4th edition of API 570 Piping Inspection Code was published in February, 2016. The edition contains a significant number of changes and improvements in technology and methodology.   There are several pending action items in the backlog for this standard that are relatively inactive at the moment because the next edition is not due out until 2021.
  • A task group (TG) has been formed within the SCIMI to update and improve the inspection section of each damage mechanism section in API RP 571 on Damage Mechanisms. The format will remain the same, but the inspection guidance will be significantly updated relative to many newer Inspection and NDE techniques and methodologies in use today for each specific DM.  Three ballots were issued this past summer for members to review and comment; ballot comment resolution occurred at the fall meeting in Dallas, but is not yet complete.  It is anticipated that the new and updated guidance in the Inspection Section of each of the DM’s in 571 will be considerably more useful.  A master editor has been contracted to pull them all together into a consistent format. The next edition of 571 is due for publication in 2018.
  • The 4th edition of API RP 572 on Inspection Practices for Pressure Vessels has recently been published (December, 2016). From now on it will be updated in sync with 510, so that material can be moved back and forth between the two sister documents (i.e. putting the more informational PV inspection issues in 572 and focusing 510 more on requirements and expectations for what “shall and should” be done).  Major changes in organization and content are anticipated in the next edition of 572 which is due for publication in 2019.
  • The 3rd edition of API RP 573 on Heater/Boiler Inspection was published in October, 2013. At this meeting, a TG met to continue planning updates for the 2018 edition.  Numerous potential improvements were discussed and assigned to volunteers.  A master editor is being sought to pull all the comments together with a ballot anticipated in spring of 2018 with comment resolution scheduled for the April Standards meeting in Seattle.  Considerable interaction and input from the API SC on Heater Transfer Equipment is being sought for the next edition.  If anyone in your company  is a heater MI specialist, please let them know that  more participation is wanted and needed from anyone interested in improving API 573 on Heater/Boiler Inspection
  • The 4th edition of API RP 574 on Piping Inspection Practices was published in November, 2016. As is the case with API 572 & 510, from now on API 574 will be updated in synch with 570, so that the more informational piping inspection issues remain in 574 and 570 continues to focus more on requirements and expectations.  A ballot on CUI inspection for piping passed at this meeting.
  • The 3rd edition of API RP 575 on Tank Inspection Practices was published in 2014, so it’s due for a new edition in 2019. This is the sister standard to API 653.  A TG met to document and discuss several improvements at the fall Standards meeting.  A master editor for the document has been selected and attended the meeting.  The next ballot is expected after the meeting in April, 2018.
  • The 4th edition of API RP 576 on Inspection of Pressure Relieving Devices was published in April, 2017. The TG on 576 is currently inactive since the next edition is not scheduled until 2022.
  • The 3rd edition of API RP 577 on Welding Inspection and Metallurgy was published December, 2013. A TG for the 4th edition met again at this API SCIMI meeting to continue updates for a targeted due date in 2018 for the next edition.  A master editor has been selected and the first ballot for the next edition is anticipated in the Q1/18.  Numerous potential improvements/changes to the document were discussed.
  • The TG on API RP 578 Guidelines for a Material Verification Program for New and Existing Assets completed 3rd ballot resolution and the document has now been submitted for publication which is expected before the next Standards meeting in Seattle. The document is being 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 been balloted and accepted (as shown above) to recognize that the topic applies to more than just piping. 
  • The 3rd edition of API/ASME 579 on Fitness for Service (FFS) was published in June, 2016 which included a new section 14 on evaluation of fatigue damage, recommendations for establishing an allowable RSF, a rewrite of section 9 on residual stress solutions, updated procedures for the assessment of creep damage, and a new annex on metallurgical investigation and evaluation of mechanical properties in a fire damage assessment. Work on the 4th edition is now underway.
  • The 3rd edition of API RP 580 on Risk Based Inspection (RBI) was published in February, 2016. Major changes include some 45+ “shoulds” are now “shalls.”  For those sites using RBI, there is now a number of issues in the RBI work processes that are mandatory.  This TG is currently inactive but will be resurrected at the spring meeting in Seattle to begin planning for the 4th
  • API RP 581 on RBI Methodology - 3rd edition was published in April, 2016. This document also has a large number of changes after going through 10 ballots.   The 581 TG is very active and work is now underway on 200+ more suggested revisions for the 4th  An addendum is anticipated to be published in 2018.
  • API RP 582 3rd edition on Specialty Welding Guidelines was published in May, 2016, but work is already underway on updates for the 4th Two of those additions will be Controlled Deposition Welding (CDW) which will be removed from 510 & 570 and placed in 582; and a new section on seal welding threaded connections.  An effort will be made going forward to coordinate the contents of 577 and 582, which are handled by two different API Subcommittees.
  • API RP 583 1st edition on Corrosion under Insulations (CUI) is due for revision in 2019. A TG has been formed to consider updating it with commercial NDE technologies and inspection methods that are being used for CUI & CUF.  Eleven new items were discussed at this meeting and are ready to be balloted this coming spring with four more items under consideration. 
  • API RP 584 3rd edition on Integrity Operating Windows (IOW’s) will have a major appendix added in the next edition in 2019. It will provide a template for several major types of process units that will suggest operating parameters that the TG believes owner-users may want to consider for establishing IOW’s.  This TG also has a significant list of issues that will be worked in order to provide more guidance on the IOW implementation phase after IOW’s have been created.
  • The TG working on API RP 585 2nd edition on Investigation of Fixed Equipment Failures and Near Misses is currently inactive, but does have three minor changes on the docket for the next edition. A ballot is anticipated later in 2018 to be ready to publish the second edition.  Currently this new standard is not widely referenced in operating site process safety investigation procedures. The site/company is encouraged to review and reference the document in their incident investigation procedure, as it has useful information that will be helpful in root cause analysis of fixed equipment failures and near-misses.
  • A new standard API RP 586 on NDE Techniques is being created. It will provide the inspector with information on the NDE techniques that are best suited to find the different kinds of damage that the inspector expects in different types of equipment and in different locations.  The TG anticipates that it will eventually be a fairly large document that other API standards will refer to for more detailed information on NDE techniques for inspection planning.  It will cover what each NDE technique can and cannot do, and the various advantages and limitations of each technique.  Each section will be somewhat of a Reader’s Digest summary of each NDE technique.   The first priority is a section on heat exchanger tubular inspection techniques that will help inspectors understand the various pros and cons of the multitude of techniques available for inspection of corrosion and cracking in exchanger tubes.  At the fall 2017 meeting, the group reviewed a ballot draft covering the advantages and limitations of the nine most commonly used HX tubular inspection methods. The first ballot of that section is expected Q1/18.  The next section is expected to be on PV NDE techniques.  As each section is developed and published, much of the NDE information in other API standards will be withdrawn and a reference made to this new standard.
  • A new API Publication 587Guidance for the Development of UT Examiner Qualification Program has been approved and is slated for publication sometime early in 2018. The purpose of this publication is to outline the performance testing 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. 
  • Work is now underway on a new API RP 588 Source Inspection for Fixed Equipment. The study guide for the existing API Inspector Certification Program (ICP) for Fixed Equipment Source Inspection is serving as the base document from where to start putting together API 588.  A master editor will be selected in Q1/18 to pull together comments made so far.  First ballot is anticipated in the summer of 2018.
  • API RP 970 on Corrosion Control Documents (CCD’s) describes the work process to create a comprehensive CCD if and where a site choses to have one. CCD’s serve as a reference document for all the credible DM’s that are likely to afflict each different type of process unit for use in corrosion management and inspection planning.  Many sites have already created them or are in process of doing so.  Ballot resolution has been completed and the document is now waiting on the API publications department to issue the first edition in Q1/18.  
  • 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 in preparation for publication of the 5th edition in 2018. Progress is slow at this stage but is expected to ramp up on 2018.
  • Annex E of API RP 941 on High Temperature Hydrogen Attack (HTHA) is undergoing significant revisions to recognize additional technology and methodologies for inspection of HTHA. First ballot of the Annex is anticipated in the summer of 2018.
  • A TG on SCIMI Terms and Definitions has formed to consolidate all terms, acronyms and definitions from all SCIMI standards into one data base. The purpose of this effort is to make sure all standards that use common terms and acronyms are using the exact same definitions.  That is not entirely the case now and it’s a confusing and difficult job to update all standards when one definition changes.  The TG met in Dallas to begin work on the effort and a master editor has started the task.  First ballot is anticipated next summer.  An electronic DB and print publication with periodic addenda are anticipated.

API Individual Certification Program (ICP) Task Group

  • From its original startup in 1989, the API ICP has enjoyed a steady growth of over 14% annual average, at first mostly in the USA, but now growth is in international markets.
  • Twenty years ago there were only about 3000 certifications worldwide. Today, nearly 30,000 certified inspectors exist in 130 different countries.  Those 30,000 individuals hold over 49,000 certificates.  Now more than half (54%) of those are certified from countries outside of the USA, and 74% of those certified are non-API members at this stage.  Also, nearly 75% of those certified are non-owner users (i.e. contract inspectors).  Last year, over 11,500 candidates took examinations at over 300 different exam sites worldwide.  By far, most candidates tested in the USA, followed by Canada, Saudi Arabia, UAE, South Korea, and India.   
  • Over the last two years the percentage of individuals passing the exams are in the range of: 55-62% for API 510; 49-57% for API 570; 47-60 % for API 653; 42% for API 571; 42-55% for API 577; and 47-55% for API 580. As you can see, these exams are not easy to pass and considerable study is needed before sitting for the exams.
  • For the Specialized Certifications, the 580 RBI certification is the most popular nearing 2500 certificates, with 571 on Damage Mechanisms having over 1300 certificates and 577 on Welding Inspection having about 600 certificates in good standing.
  • There are now four NDE Performance Demo certification exams (QUTE/QUSE) being offered and passing rates on each of them have increased during 2017. A beta trial of a traveling exam offering at one service contractor that provided refresher training just before 46 of their candidates took the exams showed the highest pass rates on each of the exams experienced so far, (i.e. 100% on QUTE, 100% on QUPA, 70% on QUSE and 94% on QUSE-PA - indicating that timely training may be key to passing these exams.  There are now more than 700 certified UT examiners on the four exams, with QUTE having the most at about 500 certified so far. API will launch special site/travel exams in 2018, look for guidelines at  
  • In lieu of a senior inspector certification (that was tabled at a previous meeting) the ICP TG has decided to focus its attention on creating new specialized certifications like it has already for API 571, 577 and 580. These programs have proven to be very popular with engineers as well as inspectors who want to show they have gained considerable expertise in each of the subject matters.  Consideration is now being given to create the next certification program for API 573 on Inspection of Heaters and Boilers.  Like the three other specialized certifications in existence so far, all programs will continue to be entirely optional.  Discussions are underway with the Subcommittee on Heaters to coordinate and justify efforts for the new 573 ICP program.   
  • Over 1000 source (i.e. shop) surveillance inspectors have now been certified to the new Fixed Equipment Source Inspector Certification Program. Two modules are also being offered for rotating equipment and electrical gear source inspection.
  • About 1000 API certified inspectors have not yet switched their old paper-based certification account to the new portal website which is being constantly improved. If you have not yet activated your account, you must do so soon or you will not be able to recertify – it will only take 10 minutes to register.  API has tried numerous times to contact all those who have not switched to the new portal.
  • The first of several ICP webinars aired in October 2017 covering the API ICP on Source Inspection. It was well attended.  Other webinars are in the planning stage for other ICP programs.
  • API ICP recently completed an evaluation of exam seat times. The analysis has shown that the overwhelming number of test takers completed their exams in less time than was allocated, and ICP has officially shortened the length of time available for most exams.
  • The ICP TG also addressed the issue of possibly increasing the number of questions on the base exams for 510, 570 and 653. No decision made yet.

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