Inspectioneering Journal

The Pathway to ASME PCC-1 2013 Appendix A Compliance and its Critical Importance

Bolted Flange Integrity Management

By Neil Ferguson, Joint Integrity Leader at Hydratight. This article appears in the May/June 2014 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.

In November 2013, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) released its updated PCC-1 guidelines [1] for pressure boundary bolted flange joint assemblies (BFJAs).  Contained within the document is Appendix A, which represents a major change from the previous 2010 release and is considered to be one of the most critically important changes for BFJA technicians, operators, and other industry professionals.  Appendix A contains significant guidance for the levels of training and experience required for technicians working on BFJAs.

In the past, BFJAs were not as highly regulated as welded joints, despite the fact that both types of assemblies carry the same risk and are often securing the same process at the same pressures and temperatures.   In fact, as documented by the Society of Petroleum Engineers in its paper number SPE 164981[2], about 60% of leaks have been associated with manual human intervention in process systems.  The most common activities involved with associated leaks include:

  • Incorrect fitting of flanges, gaskets or bolts during maintenance
  • Valves in incorrect position after maintenance
  • Breakdown of the isolation system during maintenance

The paper goes on to state that a major contributing factor can be explained by a lack of competence of personnel involved in such activities.  This conclusion is supported by a recent joint study by the Norwegian University of Stavanger and the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association[3].  According to the study, the Norwegian oil and gas industry realized that the prevention of hydrocarbon leaks is of great importance because they are the most critical precursor event that can lead to major accidents.  Yet, careful analyses and new training, methods, and personnel competency can greatly reduce the number of leaks in oil and gas installations.

Specifically, the study states that the number of hydrocarbon leaks on offshore installations on the Norwegian continental shelf peaked just after the year 2000, when more than 40 leaks per year of an initial rate greater than 0.1 kg/s were found.  In response, the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association conducted a training and reduction project from 2003 through 2008, which resulted in only 10 hydrocarbon leaks greater than 0.1 kg/s in 2007.  Also, in 2011, the same association began a new project to further reduce leaks, which has shown promising results.  So far, the study has shown that more than 50% of leaks are associated with the failure of operational barriers during human intervention in process systems.  The single operational barrier that has failed most often is the verification of critical activities.

This content is available to registered users and subscribers

Register today to unlock this article for free.

Create your free account and get access to:

  • Unlock one premium article of your choosing per month
  • Exclusive online content, videos, and downloads
  • Insightful and actionable webinars
Interested in unlimited access? VIEW OUR SUBSCRIPTION OPTIONS

Current subscribers and registered users can log in now.

Comments and Discussion

There are no comments yet.

Add a Comment

Please log in or register to participate in comments and discussions.

Inspectioneering Journal

Explore over 20 years of articles written by our team of subject matter experts.

Company Directory

Find relevant products, services, and technologies.

Training Solutions

Improve your skills in key mechanical integrity subjects.

Case Studies

Learn from the experience of others in the industry.


Inspectioneering's index of mechanical integrity topics – built by you.

Industry News

Stay up-to-date with the latest inspection and asset integrity management news.


Read short articles and insights authored by industry experts.

Expert Interviews

Inspectioneering's archive of interviews with industry subject matter experts.

Event Calendar

Find upcoming conferences, training sessions, online events, and more.


Downloadable eBooks, Asset Intelligence Reports, checklists, white papers, and more.

Videos & Webinars

Watch educational and informative videos directly related to your profession.


Commonly used asset integrity management and inspection acronyms.