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Inspectioneering Journal

Results of a Successful Risk Based Inspection Study: Oil Stabilizer Facility

By Adnan A. Boudi, Ph.D, P.E., AVS. at SPE International. This article appears in the March/April 2011 issue of Inspectioneering Journal

Abstract

Due to increasing market demands for stabilized crude, it is a high priority for oil handling and processing facilities to avoid production interruption. One optimization opportunity is to review our approach for scheduled facility Test & Inspection (T&I) during turnarounds or outages. To extend the regular inspection schedule cycle, processing facilities call for Risk Based Inspection (RBI) Studies to appraise continued facility operation for extended inspection cycles without sacrificing reliability and often improving the reliability result, when applied correctly.

Equipment inspection for mechanical integrity is an important responsibility to validate the equipment condition, i.e. to improve our confidence that the equipment is healthy, reliable and safe for continued operation. The reliable operation of these facilities is very critical to support oil production demands while supporting the company safety and loss prevention measures. The RBI methodology and analysis should contain and use criteria assuring compliance with the plant’s minimum performance criteria required for safe operation.

This paper presents how a risk assessment used to appraise the Process Facility, such as oil stabilizers produced a successful T&I deferral for an additional two years by increasing the scheduled inspection period from 5 to 7 years. The goal of this RBI assessment was to determine the feasibility of a T&I deferral in order to take advantage of high market oil prices, improving the company business result. Moreover, the implementation of RBI principles in oil and gas facilities has often reduced the inspection related costs, identified areas of vulnerability and provided management with a process to achieve improved risk management.

This study describes details of a successful post complete inspection work for the stabilizer equipment at the end of the 7 year extended period, or what one could consider a lagging parameter, or KPI, regarding the success of the RBI effort. The stabilizer continued operating safely with no safety incidents recorded, nor was unexpected equipment deterioration observed. All the unit fixed equipment that was included in the RBI program maintained their integrity with no unexpected damage. This paper presents some successful experiences in performing diligent RBI studies for hydrocarbon facilities contributing to plant safety and improving operational confidence.

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