Reynolds Wrap Up: Highlights from the API Subcommittee on Inspection and Mechanical Integrity (SCIMI) Meetings at the Fall 2019 API Standards Meeting

By John Reynolds, Principal Consultant at Intertek. December 26, 2019

API Inspection and Mechanical Integrity Summit 

Planning has begun for the next Inspection and Mechanical Integrity (IMI) Summit.  The format will be largely the same as it has been. Some discussions are underway about length of presentations.  As attendees know, during the last Summit, we changed from 45 minute to 30 minute sessions. That worked well for some presentations, but was a bit too short for some others.  Hence, we are exploring the possibility that we will have a blend of 30 minute and 45 minute presentations; no decision yet.  

The planning committee is also hoping to ramp up the “new technology” sessions which allowed companies to talk for 15 minutes about some of the newer IMI technologies that are being developed but are not yet available commercially.

We are also looking for new blood for the planning committee to help us vet speaker abstracts, slides, and as always help to moderate and facilitate the sessions.  If you are interested and are able to commit between 50 and 100 hours of volunteer work over a period of 6-8 months, then respond to this article at the IJ and we will add your name to the list of potential volunteers.  The planning committee will meet again at the April Standards meeting.

As a reminder from the last SCIMI highlights from the Spring Meeting, the big news is that with this last growth spurt in IMI Summit attendance (nearly 25% more again in 2019) we have exceeded the capacity of the Galveston Convention Center, forcing API to seek a new venue and time.  We know that the Galveston CC was popular, especially in the winter time frame, but it’s now just too small for the continually growing size and popularity of the IMI Summit. Therefore, the next IMI Summit will be held at the San Antonio Convention Center the first week of June, 2021.  We had to move from January to June simply because of available CC space. One good thing about the June timeframe in 2020 is that the Summit will no longer be encumbered by labor contract expirations which have limited the attendance opportunity for some owner-users in the January timeframe.  The San Antonio venue is much larger, better equipped, with more meeting rooms than we could possibly use and a huge exhibition hall. So mark your calendars now and don’t plan to take family vacations that week unless you bring the family to San Antonio. Monday will again be an optional training day with 12-15 different FEMI courses offered by industry SMEs.  Be there!  

Inspectioneering will once again be a primary source for advance information about the 2021 IMI Summit.

API SCIMI Codes and Standards and Related Activities

Here’s a summary of the status of all the codes and standards currently in progress within the API SCIMI and a few others of interest to FEMI personnel. Please use the latest editions of each document, as the new editions are considerably improved and updated over previous versions. 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 the spring and fall time frames of each year at the API Refining Standards Meeting. 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 20-22, 2020 at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans. If you cannot attend, but have suggestions for changes that you would like to have considered for the next editions of any of the listed standards, please send them to me or any SCIMI member to table at our meeting.

  • Work is well underway on a draft on the 11th edition of API 510 Pressure Vessel Inspection Code which is due for next publication in 2021; ballot resolution was conducted on over 200 comments received on the ballot before this meeting, but was not completed at this meeting. The 510 TG will meet again in February to continue to resolve the many comments received on the last ballot in 2019. A few of the issues discussed included: references to the new API 588 on Source Inspection, API 583 for CUI/CUF and API 970 for development of Corrosion Control Documents for process unit, more details on inspection planning, the need for MAT for pressurization of heavy wall equipment to avoid brittle fracture during startup, more guidance on avoiding corrosion from pressure testing waters, and dozens more issues. Another ballot is expected in 1Q/20 for discussions at the New Orleans meeting. Two addenda have been issued since the 10th edition was issued in May, 2014. Be sure to obtain copies of those addenda which are in effect now.
  • 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 piping inspection technology and methodology. Activity for updating the 5th edition will at the April meeting in New Orleans. If you have suggestions for improvement, please pass them along to a SCIMI member.
  • A SCIMI task group (TG) has been very active to improve the inspection portion 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 and improved relative to many newer inspection and NDE techniques and methodologies in use today for each specific DM. All ballot issues have been resolved and the next edition of API 571 is expected to publish in the summer of 1Q/20. This edition seems to be stuck in a publication/ proof page do loop. It is anticipated that the new and updated guidance in the Inspection Section of each of the DMs in 571 will be considerably more useful to inspectors and engineers.
  • The 4th edition of API RP 572 on Inspection Practices for Pressure Vessels was last published in 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 underway for the next edition of 572. A substantial amount of time was devoted to the first ballot resolution in Atlanta, but as with 510, we did not finish with all of the nearly 200 comments received, so the 572 TG will meet again in January and issue another ballot in 1Q/20 for resolution at the New Orleans meeting in April.
  • The 3rd edition of API RP 573 on Heater/Boiler Inspection was published in October, 2013. At the Fall Standards Meeting, a TG met to do ballot resolution on over 140 technical comments received from the ballot conducted in 3Q/19. A master editor has been put under contract to pull all the comments together with another ballot anticipated in 1Q/20 with comment resolution scheduled before the Spring Standards Meeting in New Orleans. Publication is expected EOY/20. Considerable interaction and input from the API SC on Heat Transfer Equipment is occurring for the next edition.
  • 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 for piping inspection and mechanical integrity. This year the 570/574 TG has been inactive but expected to be reactivated in the spring of 2020.
  • The 3rd edition of API RP 575 on Tank Inspection Practices was published in 2014. This is the sister standard to API 653. A TG met to do ballot resolution at the Fall Standards Meeting on the comments received on the summer ballot. Discussions were held concerning UAV inspections of tanks, CML locations on tanks, and laser inspection practices. Tank chime sealing best practices will be covered in a separate Technical Bulletin which will be referenced in RP 575. One more recirculation ballot to review the changes made during this meeting is anticipated 1Q/20with publication of the next edition in anticipated by EOY/20.
  • The 4th edition of API RP 576 on Inspection of Pressure Relieving Devices was published in April, 2017. The TG on 576 was inactive in 2019 since the next edition is not scheduled until 2022 but is expected to crank back up in 2020. If you have thoughts on any improvements to our PRV standard, please pass them along to an SCIMI member.
  • The 2nd edition of API RP 577 on Welding Inspection and Metallurgy was published December, 2013. A TG for the 4th edition met again at the Fall API SCIMI Meeting to do final ballot resolution on a few remaining comments received in the summer ballot for the next edition. Numerous potential improvements/changes to the document were discussed, including extensive reformatting and adding more heat treating information. No more ballots are anticipated and after final editing, publication of the 4th edition is anticipated in 2020.
  • The TG on API RP 578 Guidelines for a Material Verification Program for New and Existing Assets was published in February of 2018. The document has been expanded beyond just alloy piping to all types of fixed equipment, including some non-alloy equipment (e.g., carbon steel for residual elements). Hence, this TG is was inactive during 2019 but will reconvene next year to prepare for the 2023 edition.
  • 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 which is expected to publish next year, including changes on: burst pressure calculations, use of stress analysis procedures to determine MAWP, changes for material data for creep analysis, updates on fire damage assessments, improvements in assessment of crack-like flaws and several more changes. Part 3 on brittle fracture will be revised using the latest fracture mechanics technology and numerous other changes in process. Three new parts are in various stages of planning beyond the next edition including one on assessment of vibration fatigue damage, one on HTHA damage assessment, and one on assessment of hot spots.
  • The 3rd edition of API RP 580 on Risk Based Inspection (RBI) was published in February, 2016. Major changes included about 45+ “shoulds” have now become “shalls.” For those sites using RBI, there are now a number of issues in the RBI work processes that are mandatory. This TG met at the Fall Meeting to resolve nearly 200 comments received on the summer ballot for the 4th edition. Further ballot resolution is anticipated in January and another ballot 1Q/20 for resolution at the April meeting.
  • API RP 581 on RBI Methodology - 3rd edition was published in April, 2016. The 581 TG is very active and work is now underway on 200+ more suggested revisions for the 4th edition as well as interim addendum. The first addendum was published in early 2019 and work is now underway for a 2nd addendum. As with most API Standards, a lot of reorganizational work is underway to comply with the API Standards Style Guide. Two key issues receiving attention are chloride and amine SCC. A ballot is anticipated in 1Q/20 for resolution at the April meeting.
  • API RP 582 3rd edition on Specialty Welding Guidelines was published in May, 2016, but work is already underway on more than 30 additional items for the 4th edition. Just a few of those additions include: Controlled Deposition Welding (CDW), which will be removed from 510 & 570 and placed in 582; PWHT requirements for HTHA resistance; a new section on seal welding threaded connections; adding guidance on welding lean and hyper duplex SS; updating the guidance on welding short-arc GMAW; guidance on weld overlays and aged high temperature alloy tubes for steam-methane reformers and ethylene heaters; and some guidance on welding nickel alloy dissimilar metals. An effort is being 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 Insulation (CUI) was issued in May, 2014. The TG met before the Fall meeting to conduct ballot resolution on several topics including updating the document with the latest commercial NDE technologies and inspection methods that are being used for CUI & CUF. Another recirculation ballot will be posted this 1Q/20 for review of the new changes made in 4Q/19 with the next edition anticipated ready for publication in 2020.
  • API RP 584 3rd edition on Integrity Operating Windows (IOWs) will have a major annex added in the next edition. The annex will provide a generic IOW template for numerous major types of process units that will suggest operating parameters that the TG believes owner-users may want to consider for establishing IOWs. The summer 2019 ballot drew nearly 200 comments. A section of pitfalls to be avoided during IOW implementation has been drafted. An annex suggesting an equipment specific IOW template is also drafted. A ballot is anticipated 1Q/20 for ballot resolution at the April Meeting with publication of the 4th edition anticipated in 2021.
  • The TG working on API RP 585 2nd edition on Investigation of Fixed Equipment Failures and Near Misses met at the Fall meeting to review about 50 comments for the next edition. Currently, this new standard is not widely referenced in operating site process safety investigation procedures. Another ballot is expected in 1Q/20 for ballot resolution at the Spring meeting in New Orleans. Publication of the 3rd edition is anticipated in 2021. Each site/company is encouraged to review and reference the document in their site incident investigation procedure, as it has useful information that will be helpful in causal analysis during investigations 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 useful to the inspection community. 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. The first ballot on that section drew over 140 comments which were discussed and mostly resolved at the Spring 2019 Meeting. Another recirculation ballot will take place 1Q/20 showing all the changes during the ballot resolution. The master editor for 586 also tabled a detailed outline for the next section of inspection for contact point corrosion (CPC) at pipe supports which got a lot of support from the TG members present as the next section for 586. Work on the next section is expected to be on the new techniques under development for HTHA inspection and currently being coordinated with API 941. As each new section on NDE is developed and published, much of the NDE information in other API standards will be withdrawn and a reference made to this new standard in order to focus all our NDE inspection technology and methodology into one document.
  • A new API Publication 587Guidance for the Development of UT Examiner Qualification Program has been approved and will be submitted for publication in early 2020. 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).
  • A new API RP 588Source Inspection for Fixed Equipment was published in 2019, along with an addendum for a minor clarification. This RP will become the basis for the API ICP on Source Inspection, replacing the existing study guide. If you haven’t had time to review this new RP, it has a lot of useful information on the entire work process for conducting shop inspections on fixed equipment from planning to final delivery.
  • A new database API Pub. 589 on Inspection and Mechanical Integrity Lessons Learned is being created. The scope of the database will be a compilation of hundreds of LOPC incidents and near-misses (anonymously recorded) in refining and petrochemical process units as a result of deterioration from the DMs outlined in API 571.  The lessons learned (LL) will be organized by different unit operations associated with the 20+ types of process units commonly in service. The database is expected to serve as a resource for all AFPM members to provide guidance on where to inspect and possibly mitigate DMs before they lead to a potential repeat incident in our industry.  The TG notionally agreed with AFPM to include this new FEMI LOPC LL database within their existing PSM incident database structure. 
  • API RP 970 on Corrosion Control Documents (CCDs) describes the work process and recommended contents for a comprehensive CCD.  The first edition was published in December, 2017 so the TG is inactive at this time. CCDs serve as a reference document for all the credible DMs that are likely to afflict each different type of process unit for use in corrosion management and inspection planning.  CCDs are especially useful for storing all the information necessary for RBI and IOWs. Is your site using this new standard to create CCDs for each of your process units?
  • 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.  Hundreds of suggested changes and additions have been suggested and discussed in committee so far.  A comment-only ballot for the next edition is out now and due to close in December. Because of the extensive changes included and yet to be drafted, ballot resolution in 2020 is expected to be an extensive effort before publication of the 5th edition, which is now overdue.
  • Annex E of API RP 941 on High Temperature Hydrogen Attack (HTHA) is undergoing significant revisions to recognize new technology and methodologies for inspection for HTHA.  First ballot of the new Annex occurred this past summer of 2019. All comments were resolved in the Fall TG meeting.  A recirculation ballot is expected in 1Q/20 for resolution at the April meeting The details for the new techniques for HTHA inspection will be contained in a new annex of API RP 586, with simply a high level summary of them remaining in API 941 with reference to API 586 for more details.  Several presentations and discussion on the new HTHA inspection techniques were part of the IMI Summit last January.
  • A TG on API 590SCIMI Terms and Definitions is underway to develop a management system to ensure terms, acronyms, and definitions from all SCIMI standards are consistent.  The first ballot is due to close in December, 2019.  This proposed management system includes assigning a SCIMI task group as the “originator” or “owner” for each term and a work process for creation of new and modifications to existing definitions. The purpose of this effort is to make sure all standards that use common terms and acronyms are using the 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 again at the Fall Meeting in November to continue work on the effort.  An electronic database and print publication with periodic addenda are anticipated when the work on the first edition is complete.
  • A study group (SG) was formed at the Spring SCIMI Meeting to draft an outline for a new SCIMI document that would pull together all of the applicable API standards that apply to fixed equipment mechanical integrity (FEMI) and show how they all relate to each other and how a fully integrated FEMI program can be formed at each operating site – sort of an “umbrella” document for the 40+ API FEMI related standards. The TG met again at the Fall meeting to begin drafting ideas and an outline for the new document.  A work group was formed to draft a strawman for review at the next meeting in New Orleans.

API Individual Certification Program (ICP) Task Group

From its inception in 1989, the API ICP has enjoyed a steady growth of over 14% annual average, at first mostly in the USA, but now has seen a steady growth in international markets as we begin to approach saturation in the USA.

Twenty years ago there were only about 3000 certifications worldwide with a concentration in US markets. Today, we have over 36,000 certified inspectors holding over 56,000 certifications in 122 different countries. Now more than half (>52%) of those are certified from countries outside of the USA. This year for the first time, more than half of the certificates were issued for “other” specialized certifications as opposed to the basic 510/570/653 certs. Also, nearly 75% of those certified are non-owner users (i.e., contract inspectors, insurance companies, construction companies, etc.); and 63% of active certified inspectors work full time as employees of inspection companies. Last year, nearly 14,000 candidates took examinations at over 300 different exam sites worldwide. By far, most candidates tested in the USA, followed by Canada, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, UAE, and India. Of interest to me was than the seemingly huge market for ICP in China has not yet been tapped, with countries like Columbia, Qatar, South Africa all exceeding the number of certificates so far issued in China. The number of exams administered each year in total seems to be growing at a rate of about 1000 per year.

In the last five years, API ICP administered over 60,000 exams for certification in 79 difference countries using over 400 different exam sites available. Out of those 80 countries, the top 20 countries accounted for nearly 93% of the exams administered.

Three of the newer ICPs are for Source Inspection for fixed equipment, rotating equipment, and electrical equipment (SIFE/SIRE/SIEE). The SIFE was first out of the blocks and now has nearly 10,000 certificates in effect. SIRE followed and is now approaching 200 certificates, while SIEE is just getting started with only 15 certificates in effect.

Over the last two years the percentage of individuals passing the exams are in the range of roughly: 60-70% for API 510 with this YTD scores being around 60%; 50-59% for API 570, with this YTD scores closer to 50%; 45-59 % for API 653, with this YTD scores being closer to the 59% mark; 35-48% for API 571, with this YTD scores tending toward the lower %; 46-63% for API 577, with this YTD scores tending toward the higher %; 55-68% for API 580, with this YTD scores being right in that range; 58-90% for the newer API 588 SIFE, with this YTD scores being in the 62% range; 65-75% for API 936 Refractory Inspectors, with this YTD scores tending toward the top of that range and 60-80% for 1169 Pipeline Inspector. As you can see, these exams are not easy to pass and considerable study of the designated body of knowledge (BOK) is needed before sitting for the exams.

For the Specialized Certifications, the 580 RBI certification is the most popular with nearly 3300 certificates in existence, with 571 on Damage Mechanisms having nearly 1600 certificates, and 577 on Welding Inspection having over 700 certificates in good standing.

There are now five NDE Performance Demo certification exams (QUTE/QUSE/QUPA/QUSE-PA, plus the newest one QUTE-TM for thickness measurements just launched this year) being offered and passing rates on each of them have increased over the past couple years. 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 almost 800 certified UT examiners on the five exams, with QUTE having the most at about 400 certified so far.

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