Reynolds Wrap Up: Highlights from the API Subcommittee on Inspection and Mechanical Integrity (SCIMI) at the Fall 2020 Standards Meeting

By John Reynolds, Principal Consultant at Intertek. December 29, 2020

API Inspection and Mechanical Integrity (IMI) Summit Planning

As a reminder from the last SCIMI highlights from the spring meeting, with this last growth spurt in IMI Summit attendance (nearly 25% more again in January 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 Convention Center was popular, especially in the winter timeframe, 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 in the first week of June 2021. The San Antonio venue is much larger, better equipped, with more meeting rooms than we could possibly use, and a huge exhibition hall. Mark your calendars now and don’t plan to take family vacations that week unless you bring the family to San Antonio. Monday of Summit week will again be an optional training day with 12-15 different FEMI courses offered by industry SMEs. Those will be announced soon after the first of the year. Don’t miss out.

On the other hand, we clearly don’t know what impact to expect on Summit plans of the current pandemic and the downturn in industry economics. API has not yet changed any plans for an in-person gathering in San Antonio, but no one knows what the situation will be next June, so we are starting to think about a possible virtual conference, a combined virtual and face-to-face conference, or even postponing it further to hold a face-to-face conference later, which will of course depend on finding Summit accommodations. Once the pandemic passes, there may be a huge boom in conference space. We will communicate any changes in plans as soon as possible. We’re all hoping for an in-person Summit where we can catch up on some networking that we’ve lost out on during the pandemic.

In the meantime, planning continues for the IMI Summit as if it will be in-person next June. The format will be largely the same as it has been in the recent past. In the past, the Summit has varied between 30 and 45 minutes scheduled for each presentation. The length of scheduled presentations will be about 45 minutes in 2021 and will allow for a few minutes to get from one room to the next. We have well over 300 abstracts submitted so far and are now starting to review them and begin the selection process to build out the program. Besides the usual three tracks for Inspection/NDE, AIM/Engineering, and Corrosion/Materials, we are planning additional short tracks on UAV/Robotics Inspection, Storage Tanks, RBI, HTHA, and possibly a few others.

The planning committee is also looking to ramp up the “new technology” sessions again at the next Summit, which allow companies to talk for 15 minutes each about some of the newer IMI technologies that are being developed but are not yet widely available commercially. Those will again occur over the noon hour break during each day of the Summit (four 15-minute talks per day) in a “lunch and learn” type environment.

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 most of the codes and standards currently in progress within the API SCIMI and a few others of interest to FEMI personnel that are managed by the API Subcommittee on Corrosion and Materials (SCCM). Please use the latest editions of each document, as most of the new editions are considerably improved and updated over previous versions. There are anywhere from 40-50 SCIMI SMEs, from as many different operating and service companies plus consultant SMEs, working continuously to improve and update these standards with what are believed to be industry best practices, requirements, and guidelines. 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 timeframes of each year at the API Refining Standards Meeting. Once again, this meeting was held as a virtual conference for obvious reasons. It’s not as effective or efficient as in-person meetings, but we are getting better at it and made a lot of progress on our SCIMI standards as indicated below. You do not need 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 scheduled to be held May 17-19 at the Seattle Hyatt Regency if we are back to face-to-face meetings by that time. 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 and we will table them at our meeting. In the meantime, here is the progress made on a number of the API Codes/Standards by the various task groups (TG) assigned to keep them up to date:

  • 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 fall of 2021; ballot resolution was conducted on another 25+ technical comments received on the ballot before this meeting which is down from 200+ on the first ballot; so, the TG is making good progress toward completing work on the 11th edition. There will be one more ballot this spring with resolution before or during the spring meeting and hopefully be ready to publish the 11th edition in the fall of 2021. There are a lot of major changes in requirements in this next edition, but a lot of recommended practices, improved clarity, and organizational changes throughout the document. 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, so it’s due for its 5-year update in 2021. The 4th edition contains a significant number of changes and improvements in piping inspection technology and methodology, so I hope you are making good use of it. Activity for updating the 5th edition is now underway. A comment ballot was issued this fall to begin collecting ideas for improving the Code, and comment resolution is now underway in preparation for a voting ballot in 1Q/21. Well over 100 suggestions for improvements have already been submitted to be worked into the next ballot. If you have any suggestions for improvement, please pass them along to a SCIMI member.
  • A SCIMI TG on Section 7 of the API RP 571 on Damage Mechanisms in the Petrochemical Industry is now inactive since the 3rd edition of API 571 was published in March 2020. That edition had a lot of improvements in it, especially in the inspection section 7 for each damage mechanism. So be sure to be using the new edition. It has been substantially updated and includes some reorganization as well as a few more damage mechanisms. Keeping RP 571 up to date is a joint effort between SCIMI and SCCM.
  • The 4th edition of API RP 572 on Inspection Practices for Pressure Vessels was last published in December 2016 with the intention that it will be updated in sync with 510 from now on, so that material can be moved back and forth between the two sister documents (i.e., putting the more guidance and 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 still underway for the next edition of 572. This document is the last of the original Guides for Inspection of Refinery Equipment originally published nearly 50 years ago that were nearly all transformed into SCIMI RPs. So, the effort underway now is to modernize it and bring this old guide into the 21st century to make it more useful to uses of the API 510 Code. 120+ significant comments were received on the recent ballot and resolution of those comments is currently underway. Another ballot will be issued 1Q/21 for resolution at the spring meeting. The target for publication of the next edition is 2022.
  • The 3rd edition of API RP 573 on Heater/Boiler Inspection was published in October 2013. At the Spring Standards Meeting, the TG met to do ballot resolution on numerous comments received from the last ballot. All comments have either been resolved and incorporated or scorecarded for consideration in the future. Considerable interaction and input from the API SC on Heat Transfer Equipment have occurred on the latest edition. The 4th edition is in the final stages of proof-reading before publication which is expected 1Q/21. In this next edition, an effort was made to distinguish between fired heaters and furnaces; there is now a reference to using API 936 certified inspectors for QA/QC of refractor repairs and installations; a section added on heater tube IOWs along with annexes to outline parameters for owner-operators to consider for establishing IOWs; a section added about CCDs and their application to heater/furnace inspections; more extensive information about heater tube cleaning has been added to an Annex; an extensive section of burner inspection and deterioration issues added; significant improvements in the section on inspection for tube thickness, diameter, sagging and bowing; improved guidance on guy wire inspection for heater stacks; and many more improvements. API RP 573 has been significantly improved and deserves to be the basis for training for all inspectors involved in heater/furnace inspections.
  • 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, it is the intent that API 574 will be updated in synch with 570, so that the more informational piping inspection issues and guidance will remain in 574 while 570 continues to focus more on requirements and expectations for piping inspection and mechanical integrity. A comment ballot was issued this past summer to collect ideas on what changes members are interested in making. Nearly 70 substantive comments were received, and ballot resolution of those comments is now underway in preparation for the first voting ballot on 5th edition of API 574. Some of the comments being worked involve: coverage of UT doubling readings; insulated austenitic and duplex SS susceptible to External Chloride Stress Corrosion Cracking (ECSCC) under insulation; a warning about the potential for overheating internally refractory lined piping systems when maintenance inadvertently covers it with insulation while working nearby; significantly improved coverage of methods of UT thickness monitoring; substantially modified section on tell-tale hole drilling which used to be more common 40+ years ago; and the addition of magnetic and electromagnetic techniques available for screening inspection of buried piping.
  • The 4th edition of API RP 575 on Tank Inspection Practices was published in July 2020. This is the sister standard to API 653. Hence this TG is now inactive until the need to begin work on the 5th edition which will come due before 2025. The 4th edition has numerous changes and improvements, including: additional verbiage on composite internal floating roofs; similar service inspections; a new section on leak detection; floating roof inspections and external floor inspections; small cylindrical tanks now eliminated from the context of this document; added robotic MFL and AET to in-service inspection NDE discussions; more directions for the use of API RP 571 are provided for evaluating certain aspects of damage mechanism or failure analyses; improved directions are provided for remaining life evaluations and the hypothetical corrosion rate curve is eliminated; recommendations for coordinating inspection and repair timing with operational issues are added/enhanced; directions are now provided for establishing shell CMLs for generalized and localized corrosion evaluations; stress corrosion cracking (SCC) expanded to include Ethanol SCC; requirements for inspecting double walled tanks are enhanced. So be sure to get a new copy to work from. Considerable interaction and input from the API SC on ASTs have occurred on the latest edition.
  • The 4th edition of API RP 576 on Inspection of Pressure Relieving Devices was published in April 2017. The TG on 576 has not been reactivated to begin work on the 5th edition which in due in 2022. A comment ballot was issued this past summer to begin the process of collecting ideas for changes for the 5th edition. It drew 130+ comments which were the subject of a ballot resolution meeting in November and will be again in 1Q/21. Whereupon a voting ballot will be issued for resolution in the May meeting. Some of the issues under consideration for the 5th edition include: 1) need for radiography or other means to make sure BVs in the inlet and outlet of PRVs are fully retracted in service; 2) need to investigate the cause of fouling discovered in inlet/outlet of PRVs; 3) improvements in recognition of the common in-service testing of PRVs in gas gather plants in clean, non-fouling service. If you have thoughts on any improvements to the PRV standard, please pass them along to any SCIMI member.
  • The 3rd edition of API RP 577 on Welding Inspection and Metallurgy was published in October 2020. Hence the 577 TG is now inactive until work is due to begin on the next edition which is planned for 2025. The 3rd edition has numerous changes and improvements, so be sure to get a copy to work from. Here is just a sampling of the changes: revised the definitions to align with AWS definitions, adding several items covered in the RP. Over 40% of the definitions are new or revised; the section on welding processes was revised and enhanced with every process undergoing some sort of improvements; the section on WPSs was significantly enhanced by the addition of a tabulated listing of Essential, Non-essential, and Supplemental essential variables for each of the welding processes covered by the RP; tables in the NDE section were revised to reflect current methods and clarify application of various methods; completely revised Annex C WPS/PQR Review, showing sample WPSs and PQRs as checklists for each of the listed welding processes, indicating Essential, Non-essential, and Supplemental essential variables for each particular process; removed the section on “Inspection considerations” for the three stages of work preparation (before/during/after) and executions from the body of the document and placed them in Informative Annex F Inspection Considerations.
  • API RP 578 Guidelines for a Material Verification Program for New and Existing Assets 3rd edition 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 and silicon content). A new section is included on the substitution in stainless steel and other high alloy systems, as well as more emphasis on point-of-installation PMI. Hence, this TG has been inactive since the last edition but will reconvene in the spring of 2021 to prepare for the 4th edition in 2023.
  • The 2nd edition of API 579-1/ASME FFS-1 on Fitness for Service (FFS) was published in June 2016, which included: a new section 14 on the 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 3rd edition is well underway which is expected to publish in 2021, including changes on: 1) modified general metal loss assessment procedures to prevent potentially non-conservative misapplication; 2) provided significant enhancements in the assessment procedures for evaluation of crack-like flaws; 3) updated procedures for evaluation of dents, gouges, and dent-gouge combinations to align with The Pipeline Defect Assessment Manual (PDAM); 4) clarified various aspects of the brittle fracture assessment procedures, including updated guidance on the Minimum Allowable Temperature (MAT) of ASME B16.5 flanges; 5) added new material properties for assessment of creep damage consistent with WRC 541, revision 3 and 6) numerous editorial corrections, updates, and clarifications will be included throughout the standard along with many more technical changes and enhancements.
  • 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.” Hence for those sites using RBI, there are now a number of issues in the RBI work processes that are mandatory no matter what software or work process you are using. The 580 TG met to resolve over 600 new comments received on the summer ballot for the 4th edition which contained a large amount of new and reorganized material. More meetings to finish ballot resolution are now underway in anticipation of another voting ballot in 1Q/21. Aiming for publication of the 4th edition by EOY/21, but that may be extended into 2022 because of the large number of comments being received on a vastly reorganized and rewritten RP.
  • API RP 581 on Risk Based Inspection (RBI) Methodology - 3rd edition was published in April 2016. The 581 TG has been very active, and work is now underway on resolving numerous comments on six ballots for the 4th edition. The first addendum for the 3rd edition was published in early 2019. As with most API Standards, a lot of reorganizational work is underway to comply with the API Standards Style Guide. Ballot resolution is also underway on the six ballots issued this past summer on internal liners, inspection planning, sulfidation NAC, PRD inspection, MSF, and maximum safety risk target. Another ballot is out now on RBI for steam systems. More ballots are expected 1Q/21. The current target for publication of the 4th edition of API RP 581 is 1Q/22.
  • API RP 582 3rd edition on Welding Guidelines for the Chemical, Oil and Gas Industries was published in May 2016. Work is underway on more than 40 additional items for the 4th edition anticipated for publication in 2021. 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 and consolidating/updating guidance on duplex and super duplex SS; adding guidance on welding austenitic stainless steels, adding guidance on welding P91; updating the guidance on welding short-arc GMAW; guidance on weld overlays and aged high temperature alloy tubes for steam-methane reformers and ethylene crackers; guidance on residual element control in weld rods used for welding carbon steel for HF acid service, some clarification of when single layer WOL may be acceptable (e.g. SAW & ESW), a condensed guideline on in-service welding issues consolidating information from several other publications and some guidance on welding nickel alloy dissimilar metals. The TG is also considering amendments by the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP) which initiated a Joint Industry Program (JIP33) in 2016 “Supplementary Specification to API RP 582 In response to industry-wide cost and schedule overruns of more than 40%. JIP33 specifications build on existing industry standards to provide a full set of requirements with which to purchase welded equipment and packages. Also, an effort is being made going forward to coordinate the contents of 577 and 582, which are handled by two different API Subcommittees (SCIMI and SCCM respectively). Currently, Section 11 of 577 contains some topics that may better fit in 582.
  • API RP 583 1st edition on Corrosion Under Insulation (CUI) was issued in May 2014. The TG has approved the final copy of the 2nd edition which is anticipated to publish by mid-year 2021. It includes new sections on computed and digital RT for CUI inspection, a new section on moisture detection imaging, more encouragement to maintain insulation systems to avoid water ingress, updated sections on silica aerogel, a new section on water-resistant stonewool, an extensively rewritten section on GWUT for CUI and an updated section on QA/QC for insulation system installation planning.
  • API RP 584 1st edition on Integrity Operating Windows (IOWs) was issued in May 2014. The TG working on the 2nd edition will add a major annex to the RP. 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 depending upon their own unit conditions, design and circumstances. An annex on pitfalls to be avoided during IOW implementation has also been added. An annex suggesting an equipment specific IOW template is also drafted. Ballot resolution on nearly 60 comments received on the third ballot was completed at the fall meeting. Another recirculation ballot is anticipated in the 1Q/21 for ballot resolution at the spring meeting. Publication of the 2nd edition is anticipated by mid-year 2021.
  • API RP 585 1st edition on Investigation of Fixed Equipment Failures and Near Misses was issued in May 2014. The TG working on the 2nd edition met at the fall meeting to resolve about 30 comments for the 2nd edition. 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. One more recirculation ballot is expected this spring for ballot resolution at or before the spring meeting. Publication of the 2nd edition is anticipated by mid-year 2021.
  • 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 and guidance 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 section is 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. One more recirculation ballot will take place this spring showing all the revisions made during ballot resolution. The master editor for 586 also tabled a detailed outline for another section of inspection for contact point corrosion (CPC) at pipe supports. A third section is expected to be on the newer techniques for HTHA inspection and currently included in Annex E of API 941. After the HTHA section is approved for API 586, it will be removed from API RP 941 and referenced in API 586 as well as other applicable standards. 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 most of our NDE inspection technology and methodology into this one document.
  • A new API Publication 587 – Guidance for the Development of UT Examiner Qualification Program has been approved and submitted to API staff for editing with possible publication anticipated in early 2021. 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 (e.g., QUTE/QUSE/QUPA).
  • A new API RP 588 – Source Inspection for Fixed Equipment has been published in July 2019, along with an erratum for a minor clarification. This RP has become the basis for the API ICP on Source Inspection for Fixed Equipment replacing the previous 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 planning and conducting QA/QC during shop inspections on fixed equipment from the initial planning phase through final delivery to the purchaser. There is also a useful section on risk assessment to help the user decide how much shop inspection may be needed to avoid any QA/QC problems in service depending upon the criticality of the equipment item under fabrication.
  • A new database API Pub. 589 on Inspection and Fixed Equipment 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 to provide guidance on where to inspect and possibly mitigate DMs before they lead to potential repeat incidents in our industry. The TG has agreed with AFPM to include this new FEMI LOPC LL database within their existing PSM incident database structure. Operating sites have now begun to use the new MI template for reporting incidents where the causal analysis indicates that FEMI issues were involved in the leak/failure. Over 80 submittals have been received so far. The TG will begin work on publishing guidelines for owner-users to help them fill out the FEMI template in order to provide the most useful information for readers to understand what happened, why it happened, and how to avoid it in the future.
  • A TG on API 590 - SCIMI Terms and Definitions is underway to develop a management system to ensure terms, acronyms, and definitions from all SCIMI standards are consistent and contained in one database. Ballot resolution on the 20+ substantive comments is underway and will conclude in January, upon which a recirculation ballot will be issued to finalize the work process for handling all SCIMI definitions and acronyms. This proposed management system includes assigning each SCIMI task group as the “originator” or “owner” for each term and a work process for creation of new and/or modifications to existing definitions. An electronic DB and print publication with periodic addenda are anticipated when the work on the first edition is complete. SCIMI members realize that this administrative effort is very important to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our standardization work process.
  • 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 inspection planning, including RBI, as well as creating IOWs. Many of our SCIMI Codes and RPs are being updated to recognize this relatively new RP.
  • API RP 751 Section 3 (to be replaced by section 6) on Safe Operation of HF Alkylation Process Units which covers inspection, materials, corrosion, and fabrication of HF handling equipment (among other things) is undergoing a significant rewrite in preparation for publication of the 5th edition. A SCIMI TG has been working on this revision for the last three years. In addition, the informational Annex D (which will become Annexes G and H) on corrosion/materials for HFA units and inspection practices is also being extensively rewritten by the NACE TG on HFA corrosion in conjunction with the SCIMI TG. Hundreds of changes and additions have been suggested and discussed in committee and entered into the current ballot. Some of the major changes with regard to the corrosion/materials/inspection section were highlighted in the Reynolds Wrap Up in the March/April edition of the Inspectioneering Journal. A major ballot for the next edition of section 6 and the Annexes closes in December 2020 with ballot resolution scheduled to begin soon afterward. Because of the extensive changes included, ballot resolution is expected to be an extensive effort before publication of the 5th edition. Numerous new requirements and recommended practices are included in the current ballot which are expected to further improve the integrity and reliability of fixed equipment in HF Alkylation Units. In the meantime, the 4th edition of RP 751 has been reaffirmed until the two API committees working on the document can finalize the extensive changes and get a 5th edition published in 2021.
  • TG on API RP 941 on High Temperature Hydrogen Attack (HTHA) has undergone significant revisions to recognize new technology and methodologies for inspection for HTHA. SCCM and SCIMI completed updates to Section 6 of the main document and Annex E on NDE methods for inspection for HTHA and published a new Addendum 1 to the 8th edition of RP 941 in August 2020. This update provides improved guidance on the capability of the NDE methods in detecting HTHA in comparison to the previous guidance. The TG is also in the process of creating aged based curves to supplement the existing Nelson Curves in Figure 1, which don’t have an age basis. The plan is to set a time limit to the Figure 1 curves for carbon steel (CS), and add additional curves showing the change in curve position over time for both CS and C-1/2Mo materials. The age basis will allow operators to better understand at what point to either inspect or replace equipment exposed to HTHA. The age based curves will also address the United States Chemical Safety Board’s recommendation to lower the current position of the Nelson Curves. The new curves should be available and balloted prior to publication of the 9th edition in 2021. The details for the new techniques for HTHA inspection will be eventually be contained in a new section of API RP 586, with simply a high-level summary of them remaining in API 941 with reference to API 586 for more details.
  • A TG for API Pub 592Elements of FEMI was formed at the Spring SCIMI 2019 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 2020 to discuss a scope outline and various ideas for the new document. A workgroup was formed to draft a more detailed strawman outline, but that group was unable to meet online during 2020.
  • API RP 934A Materials & Fabrication for 2.25Cr and 3Cr Steels for High Temperature and Pressure Hydrogen Service - 3rd edition January 2019. This RP covers heavy wall vessels with a shell thickness of 4 in. (100 mm) or greater where high temperature is considered to be operating temperatures of 650 °F (345 °C) and above. Such vessels are designed, fabricated, certified, and documented in accordance with ASME Section VIII, Division 2. No work is currently underway for the 4th edition, but three case studies were discussed at the fall meeting with regard to fabrication issues encountered with these heavy wall vessels. The next edition is due in 2024; however, an errata sheet is planned before that.
  • API TR 934 F Minimum Pressurization Temperatures for Cr-Mo Reactors. The relatively new TG met and held a roundtable discussing various operator approaches for setting MPT. A workgroup was created to develop a survey to be sent to operators to document the different approaches so that they can be included in TR934-F. Research has been done on 2-1/4Cr which has been documented in past API work, but there is no documented data for 1-1/4Cr-1/2Mo or C-1/2Mo steels, which applies to a lot of heavy walled equipment in hot hydrogen service in refineries. An effort was approved to gather data on 1-1/4 Cr and C-1/2Mo material. Publication of this work is targeted for 2022.
  • API TR 934H a new technical report on Inspection, Assessment, and Repair of Heavy Wall Reactor Vessels in High Temperature, High Pressure Hydrogen Service was balloted this past spring by the Subcommittee on Corrosion/Materials (SCCM) with ballot resolution taking place this past summer and fall. Another ballot is anticipated this winter before going into publication in 2021. Section 7 of this document is all about inspection practices for heavy wall reactors. Note that this document will not be a Recommended Practice (RP) but rather a Technical Report which will cover different practices for inspection and assessment of reactors and simply serve as an information resource for owner-users to create their own internal practices.
  • API TR 934J a new technical report on Inspection, Assessment, and Repair of Coke Drums and Peripheral Components in Delayed Coking Units was balloted this spring. This document will complement API TR 934G which covers the Design, Materials Selection, Fabrication, and Operating Practices of Coke Drums. Ballot resolution occurred on TR 934J in 3Q/20. There will end up being a bit of overlap between this new TR and the existing TR 934G, but that overlap will be eliminated after TR 934J is published.
  • The API RP 945 TG on Amine Corrosion and Cracking was reactivated at the spring 2019 meeting where previous update efforts were reviewed and a discussion held on proposed changes. During the Fall meeting ballot resolution was started on a comment ballot issued this past summer and another ballot is expected 1Q/21 on the red-lined version of the changes made which include: updated coverage on environmental cracking, and where it occurs in units; coverage on risk for amine cracking in rich amine (vs wet h2s) had lots of discussion; coverage on PWHT for tanks and when applicable/practical; coverage on PWHT of repairs, particularly focusing on why some owner-users may not in rich amine sections (wet h2S vs amine as main risk); updates in the inspection section, when and where to look based on service history and material (PWHT or not, repairs without PWHT, etc.); update in appendix on refining experience with amine cracking in PWHT equipment in lean amine service. The next edition of API 945 is planned for publication in 2022, so the current edition has been reaffirmed while work continues on the 4th edition.
  • API TR 932C – Duplex Stainless Steel REAC Survey: SCCM commissioned a survey of operator experience for the performance of DSS in reactor effluent systems of hydro-desulfurization units after several reported incidents of cracking. The survey showed that there have indeed been a number of incidents in reactor effluent air coolers and piping systems in the higher pressure units. The draft report includes a methodology for the assessment of risk, based on metallurgical factors and operating parameters. Operators may find that their existing REACs may have some level of risk of cracking once the document is published. The results of the survey will be used to update fabrication and inspection practices and to better understand the causes of cracking in order to update API RP582/API TR938-C/API RP932-B. The contents for the survey are targeted for release in 2021.
  • API TR 938-B Use of P91 in Petrochemical Facilities - 1st edition, June 2008. This TG kicked off at the fall 2019 meeting to update this TR on the usage of P91 steels in refining and chemical plant services. Previous focus has been on usage in steam generation, but there is increased information need for its use in process services. Republication of the 2nd edition is anticipated in 2023.
  • API RP 939C (2nd edition) on Guidelines for Avoiding Sulfidation Corrosion Failures in Oil Refineries was published in January, 2019. It contains significant new information on the expected locations of sulfidation corrosion, what parameters influence it and how to find it. Increased emphasis is placed on inspecting for accelerated corrosion of low silicon carbon steel components which has led to multiple failures in the industry. Any site that still has carbon steel operating in the temperature range above 500 degrees F should look closely at the guidance in this RP. This TG is currently inactive but will be re-established in time to prepare for the 3rd edition targeted for 2024.

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 certification saturation in the USA. Up until about 2017, most of the growth was in the three basic certification programs (510, 570, and 653), but over the last few years the growth in more specialized programs has dominated. Those “other” certification programs now total 14 different ICPs in addition to the three basic ICPs. They include certifications in refractory inspection, damage mechanisms, welding, RBI, pipeline inspection, shop inspection, ultrasonic flaw detection and sizing, and more. Last year for the first time, more than half of the certificates were issued for these “other” specialized certifications as opposed to the basic 510/570/653 ICPs.

Twenty years ago, there were only about 3000 certifications. Now there are 64,000+ certifications in 122 different countries are held by over 38,000 individuals on the 17 different ICPs. Now more than half (>51+%) of those certified are from countries outside of the USA. Nearly 70% of those certified are non-owner users (i.e., contract inspectors, insurance companies, construction companies, etc.); and 61+% of active certified inspectors work full time as employees of inspection companies with about 23+% being employed by owner-users. Last year, nearly 13,000 candidates took examinations at over 400 different exam sites worldwide. By far, most candidates tested in the USA, followed by Canada, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, UAE, India, and Malaysia. Of interest to me was that 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.

Up until last year, the number of exams administered each year in total seems to be growing at a rate of about 1000 per year with a drop off of about 1000 exams administered in 2019 and a much bigger drop-off in 2020 due to COVID-19, but the total numbers for 2020 were not available at press time. Over 95% of the ICP exams are now administered by CBT worldwide as opposed to paper-based.

In the last five years, API ICP administered over 60,000 exams for certification in 80 different 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 about 10,000 certificates in effect. SIRE followed and is now approaching 200 certificates, while SIEE is just getting started with only 16 certificates in effect.

Over the last two years, the percentage of individuals passing the exams are in the range of roughly: 52-62% for API 510; 48-58% for API 570; 45-62 % for API 653; 33-39% for API 571; 54-63% for API 577; 55-68% for API 580; 52-70% for the newer API 588 SIFE; 65-75% for API 936 Refractory Inspectors and 59-77% 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 three Specialized SCIMI Certifications (580, 571, and 577), the 580 RBI certifications is the most popular with nearly 3500 certificates in existence, with 571 on Damage Mechanisms having nearly 1700 certificates, and 577 on Welding Inspection having nearly 800 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 last year) being offered and passing rates on each of them have increased over the past couple of 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 about 800 certified UT examiners on the five exams, with QUTE having the most at about 400 certified so far.

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Comments and Discussion

Posted by José Caprarulo on January 19, 2021
Excelent information!! Thanks a lot. Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

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