Why the API Inspection Summit is a "Must Attend"

Interview with Ray Konet, Fixed Equipment Reliability Director, Valero Energy

By Jeremiah Wooten, Managing Partner at Inspectioneering. January 15, 2015

Inspectioneering recently had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Ray Konet, the Fixed Equipment Reliability Director at Valero Energy, and who also happens to be the Chairman of the Planning Committee for the 2015 API Inspection Summit. This Committee is made up of a handful of world renowned industry experts, including Clay White (Phillips 66), John Reynolds (Intertek), and Mark Carte (Stress Engineering Services), and has worked hard over the past two years to make sure that the 2015 Inspection Summit is the best one yet. Our brief conversation with Mr. Konet provides a little insight into what makes this event a “must-attend” for asset integrity professionals in the O&G, petrochemical, and chemical processing industries. 

API’s bi-annual Inspection Summit is considered by many to be the premier event in the world for Inspection personnel in the O&G and chemical processing industries. In 2013, the last time the event was held, there were over 1000 professionals from 24 countries in attendance. How many attendees are you expecting for this year’s Summit and are owner-operators well represented?

RK: Historically, attendance has increased with each Inspection Summit, so we are cautiously optimistic that attendance will exceed the 2013 levels. I use “cautiously” because some owner-user sites have cancelled travel due to the expiration of the contract with represented employees occurring just after the Summit. However, despite this, owner-user attendance will be high and represent the largest attendance group. I can add that based upon registrations to date, foreign attendance will certainly exceed 2013 levels.

What improvements/changes have been made to the event since 2013?

RK: The 2015 Summit format remains very similar to that of the 2013 Summit. The feedback from previous Summits has been quite positive so the planning committee did not want to tinker with success. You will notice, however, there are more presentation tracks driven in part by greater participation of the midstream and upstream sectors, and driven by greater acknowledgement of the value of the Summit to the industry. In addition, we have two keynote speakers at this Summit, which is a reflection of having two great topics with dynamic speakers that attendees should find very relevant to their work and future of the industry. Another significant “behind the scenes” change was the use of “Abstract” software to help manage and organize the presenters and their abstracts.

What benefit do owner-users get by sending their people to the Summit? How do you think your employer views your involvement and participation in the Summit?

RK: The Summit represents a unique opportunity for owner-users to be immersed in the mechanical integrity field for four straight days, and to learn and share insight and experiences with other owner-users and with vendors working specifically in the industry. The presentations are technical, diverse, and relevant, and are geared towards owner-users initiating new programs, addressing the latest industry initiatives, improving seasoned programs, and defining solutions to inspection challenges. I use the term “share with owner-users” because the value of the Summit is not simply the presentations, but the opportunity to network with colleagues in the industry facing similar challenges and opportunities. My employer, Valero, recognizes the value of the Summit in improving our business and the industry at large, and further recognizes that this event needs volunteers from the industry in order to make it happen and bring these issues to the forefront.

What does the future of the Inspection Summit look like? Have there been any discussions to make this an annual or semi-annual event? What about hosting in different locations both in the U.S. and abroad?

RK: The planning committee has had some discussions about the future of the Summit and the fact that we are quickly outgrowing the existing venue in Galveston. Following this year’s Summit, we will evaluate the event data and possibly discuss a new venue. I would not expect a major departure from the existing location, since we want to remain relatively close to the hub of the industry. Right now, I don’t see any change in frequency or expansion. Considerable effort is required from many volunteers to create and execute this event, and I don’t know if we could collectively pull it off more often. Further, an event every two years feels about right given the rate of new technology and allows time for experience to grow.

There are a lot of industry events out there these days. It’s getting to the point where it seems like there is one every week. What do you think makes this event special? Is it the quality of people who attend? Is it level of expertise being showcased during presentations? Why should Inspection, Maintenance, and Engineering professionals earmark the Inspection Summit as a “must attend” event every 2 years?

RK: Yes I understand completely as my inbox is constantly receiving announcements about upcoming events. The Inspection Summit, however, is special in that the event is entirely focused on asset integrity and is organized and managed by API and volunteers from the industry. Furthermore, this event receives praise and support from both owner-users and service companies alike. I cannot think of a similar event where attendees, presenters, and exhibitors from the asset integrity arena come together to share technical information and experiences with the express goal of improving the industry. For this reason, I think it is the quality and diversity of attendees, their technical expertise, and the technical content of the program that makes the Summit so unique. I may be biased, but during these times of limited training/conference budgets, I wouldn’t understand why anyone in this industry would not earmark the Inspection Summit for the value it can bring individual employees and to the organization as a whole. 

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