Inspectioneering Journal

API Inspection Benchmarking Survey

By John Reynolds, Principal Consultant at Intertek. This article appears in the September/October 2003 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.
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The API Inspection Subcommittee has issued the second edition of their inspection benchmarking survey. This time, it is a web-based version and has been significantly enhanced for data analysis purposes since the previous paper and fax version. We are encouraging as many sites, worldwide, to participate as possible, so that we have the most amount of data available for analysis and conclusions. All data will be held in complete confidence and no site will be identified in the data analysis and reporting. Even the data analyzer will not know the identity of the respondent. We had 80 responses last time and are expecting over 100 this time because of the ease of use with which the survey has been designed and the benefits of participating. Data can also be sorted and reported by company, so there is significant incentive to get all your operating sites to participate, such that you can have company-specific analysis of the data.

Only operating sites are requested to participate (refineries, chemical sites, and gas plants) and only those that participate will receive the data and the analysis as soon as it is available. So there is significant incentive to participate. The report may be issued to the others later, but not until sometime in 2005. In order to ensure that we get only one survey filled out for each site, participants must contact the API to obtain a password for access to the survey. Please e-mail Valeen Young at the following address: In the subject field of your message, enter the following: “Password for API Survey”. You must list your company name and complete address in the body of the email in order to receive a password.

There are a total of 74 questions, mostly multiple choice questions about such things as:

  • Type and size of your facility (important so we can sort and analyze the data by size of facility)
  • Facility business information, like the size of your budgets for inspection, engineering, maintenance, etc. (great for comparison)
  • Some processing information and process safety management information
  • Staffing for inspection and inspection support, including on-site, contract and corporate resources (important for comparing staffing counts at each site relative to size of facility and numbers of pieces of equipment)
  • Training and certifications utilized and/or required
  • Metrics and performance indicators in use
  • Types of inspection programs, technology and practices in use at each site
  • Average inspection intervals for each type of inspection (internal, on-
  • stream, external)
  • Types of corrosion failures experienced and pro-active programs to find and mitigate each

Data analysis will be multi-fold and include such things as:

  • Numbers of inspectors per pieces of pressure equipment
  • Frequencies of inspection for cooling water bundles
  • Inspection budget per size of operating unit
  • Amount of time spent on training
  • Percent of on-stream inspections in lieu of internal inspections
  • Engineering support per inspector
  • And many more comparisons

So if you are interested in comparing the effectiveness and efficiency of your inspection and pressure equipment integrity program with many other operating facilities in the industry, be sure to participate. The original participation deadline of Oct 10 will be extended for IJ subscribers, within reason, in order to give you a chance to participate, in case this is the first time you have heard about it.

In the last case, it is important for the inspection agency to identify that the inspection is NOT either an internal or external inspection under the rules of API 653 and that it is a special inspection with limited scope, with the scope being clearly outlined and documented. The report should identify these details clearly at the beginning of the documentation. Using the preferred/qualified suppliers for tank inspections will minimize inspection documentation problems.

Second, if owner operators know they have a leaking fixed tank roof tank, they should assume that the corrosion rates where the water ponds either on the tank bottom or floating roof are high. A what-if discussion should be conducted to determine what the hazards are and what mitigations, if any, are warranted.

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