Inspectioneering Journal

Highlights from API’s 2016 Spring Refining Standards Meeting: Subcommittee on Inspection (SCI)

By John Reynolds, Principal Consultant at Intertek. This article appears in the May/June 2016 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.

Inspection Summit Planning Meeting

  • The 2017 API Inspection Summit will be held the week of January 30 – February 2, once again at the Galveston Convention Center (GCC); but we will likely have to move to another venue for the 2019 Summit because we are outgrowing the GCC and will need to take some steps to avoid overcrowding in the 2017 meeting.
  • The Summit has grown in attendance nearly 30% each time it is held and we expect that to be the case again in 2017. The quality and quantity of information presented on asset integrity management, inspection/NDE, damage mechanisms, and engineering analysis continues to be very highly regarded by attendees. This reputation continues to grow and bring in new people.
  • The timeline for submitting and approving presentations will be earlier this year than previous years. The current deadline to submit abstracts is June 27, 2016. So please get your proposed title and abstract recorded on the Summit website ASAP.
  • The format of the 2017 Inspection Summit will generally be the same as last year’s, with a few improvements to keep it interesting. We’ve decided not to make any major changes since the format of previous Summits has been so successful.
  • Inspectioneering will once again be the Official Media Sponsor of the Inspection Summit, and the primary source for advance event information leading up to the 2017 conference.

Subcommittee on Inspection (API SCI) Activities

  • Work has begun on the 11th edition of API 510 which is not due until 2019; but several ballot items were discussed and passed. Details of those issues and ensuing discussions are available in the minutes of the meeting posted on the API SCI SharePoint site. We anticipate going back to publishing interim addenda with new and revised items before the next full edition is published.
  • The 4th edition of API 570 was published in February, 2016. There are a very large number of changes and improvements in technology and methodology in this new edition. At the spring meeting we reviewed several more ballot items for a proposed first addendum to the 4th edition. The wording of the deferral section 7.13 had intense discussion again and will be the subject of another ballot this summer. Details of those issues and ensuing discussions are available in the minutes of the meeting posted on the API SCI SharePoint site.
  • A new task group (TG) has been formed within the SCI to update and improve the inspection section of each damage mechanism article in API RP 571. The format will remain the same, but the inspection guidance will be updated relative to many new NDE techniques and methodologies in use today. At this meeting numerous volunteers offered to draft various sections for review and comment at our next API Standards meeting in New Orleans in November. The next edition of 571 is expected to be released in 2018.
  • The 4th edition of API RP 572 on Inspection of Pressure Vessels is now in its final proof-reading stages. The last ballot was approved at our Spring meeting. It’s expected to be published 3Q/16 and from now on will be updated in sync with 510, so that we can put the more informational pressure vessel inspection issues in 572 and focus 510 more on requirements and expectations.
  • The 4th edition of API RP 574 on Inspection of Piping is also in its proof-reading stage, after having passed its final ballot and expected to be published this summer. As with API 572, from now on API 574 will be updated in sync with 570, so that we can put the more informational Piping inspection issues in 574 and focus 570 more on requirements and expectations.
  • The 3rd edition of API RP 573 published in October, 2013. At this meeting, a TG was formed to begin planning updates for the 2018 edition. Considerable interaction and input from the API SC on Heaters is being sought for the next edition.
  • The 3rd edition of API RP 575 on AST Inspections published in April, 2014. At our next API Standards meeting in NOLA, a TG will be formed to begin planning updates for the 2019 edition. Considerable interaction and input from the API SC on AST’s will be sought for updating the next edition.
  • The 4th edition of API RP 576 on Inspection of Pressure Relieving Devices has been approved and is now in its final proof-reading stages. We expect that it should publish 3Q/16.
  • The 3rd edition of API RP 577 on Welding Inspection and Metallurgy was published December, 2013. A newly formed TG for the 4th edition will meet at the November API Standards meeting to begin work on updating it for its due date in 2018.
  • API RP 578 is in the early stages of being updated for the 3rd edition. One major change is that the document will be expanded beyond just alloy piping to all types of fixed equipment, including some non-alloy piping e.g. carbon steel for residual elements. New title proposed: Guidelines for a Material Verification Program for New and Existing Assets. A few emerging PMI technologies will be added as well as a section on radiation safety for XRF analyzers. The first ballot with multiple revisions was discussed at the spring meeting. Much more work to do on it. Publication is expected before EOY/17.
  • The 3rd edition of API RP 580 on RBI was published in February. The major change in this document is that some 40+ “shoulds” have been changed to “shalls”, such that for those sites using RBI, there is now a number of issues in the RBI work process that are mandatory.
  • API RP 581 3rd edition was published in April. This document also has a large number of changes included. Work is underway on for 206 more suggested revisions for the 4th edition.
  • API RP 582 3rd edition on Welding Guidelines was published in May 2016, but work is already underway on new additions for the 4th edition. Two of those will be Controlled Deposition Welding (CDW) which will be removed from 510 & 570 and placed in 582; and a new section on seal welding threaded connections. An effort will be made going forward to coordinate the contents of 577 and 582, which are handled by two different API Subcommittees.
  • A new standard API RP 586 on NDE Techniques is being created. It will provide the inspector with information on which NDE techniques are best able to find the different kinds of damage the inspector expects in different types of equipment and different locations. The TG anticipates that it will eventually be a fairly large document that other API standards will refer to for information on NDE techniques for inspection plans. It will cover what each NDE technique can and cannot do, and the various advantages of limitations of each technique. We anticipate that each section will be somewhat of a Reader’s Digest summary of each NDE technique – perhaps 3-4 pages long.  One of the first priorities is going to be the section on heat exchanger tubular inspection techniques to help inspectors understand the various pros and cons of the multitude of techniques available for inspection for corrosion and cracking in exchanger tubes. A draft of this section is due for discussion at the Fall API Standards Meeting. At the spring meeting, we reviewed several draft sections and a proposed template for all volunteer authors to follow so that each NDE section will have the same format and type of information included.
  • A new API Publication 587 – Guidance for the development of UT Examiner Qualification Program is in the works. The purpose of this publication is to outline the 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 i.e. QUTE/QUSE. Progress is slow. Another ballot anticipated before the Fall meeting. No anticipated publication date yet.
  • Another new document is underway API RP 970 on Corrosion Control Documents (CCD’s). It will describe the work process to create a comprehensive CCD if and where a site wants to create them. CCD’s will not be mandatory – just a recommended practice. Many sites have already created them. Ballot resolution discussions occurred at this meeting on the first ballot, but were not completed. A second ballot is anticipated this summer for review at our next API meeting in NOLA in November. No anticipated publication date yet.
  • Section 3 of API RP 751 on Safe Operation of HF Alky Process Units which covers inspection, materials, corrosion and fabrication of HF handling equipment (among other things) will undergo a significant rewrite in preparation for publication of the 5th edition in 2018. Progress is slow at this stage.

API Inspection Certification Program (ICP) Task Group

  • Over 23,000 certified inspectors now exist in 118 different countries worldwide. Those 23,000 individuals hold over 41,000 certificates. There are now more than half of those certified from counties outside of the USA. 80% of those certified are non-API members at this stage. Nearly 75% of those certified are non-owner users (i.e. contract inspectors). Last year, over 11,500 candidates took examinations at about 360 different exam sites. The most candidates tested in the USA, followed by Saudi Arabia, India, South Korea, and Canada respectively. For the first time in the history of the API ICP, the number of applicants for certifications began to diminish over the last 12 months. 
  • Over the last two years the numbers of individuals passing the exams are in the range of: 55-62% for API 510; 49-57% for API 570; 47-60% for API 653; 42% for API 571; 42-55% for API 577; and 47-55% for API 580. As you can see, these exams are not easy to pass and considerable study is needed before sitting for the exams.
  • A newly approved Code of Ethics for certified inspectors has been approved by the API SCI and is now posted on the API ICP website.
  • The idea of having a senior inspector certification program (something with more detail and more difficulty than the current entry level exams) was tabled at the previous meeting. Instead, the ICP TG has decided to focus its attention on creating new specialty certifications like we have already for API 571, 577 and 580. These programs have proven to be very popular with engineers as well as inspectors who want to show they have gained considerable expertise in each of the subject matters. Consideration is now being given to creating the next program for API 576 on Inspection of PRD’s and/or API 573 on Inspection of Heaters and Boilers. Like the three in existence so far, all programs will continue to be entirely optional. Some discussion occurred about the possibility of a certification for inspectors on their role in data taking and Level 1 FFS in accordance with API 579 FFS.
  • 369 new source (i.e. shop) inspectors for fixed equipment have now been certified to the new Source Inspector Certification Program. A new module has been added for rotating equipment source inspection. The ICP expects to add another module for certifying source inspectors for electrical gear.
  • About 1200 API certified inspectors have not yet switched their old paper-based certification account to the new portal website which is being constantly improved. 38,000 have registered so far. If you have not yet switched, you must do so very soon or you will not be able to recertify when your certification expires – it will only take 10 minutes. Your account has already been loaded on the new portal – just log in and confirm it. The old paper system will shut down shortly and when that happens, those that have not acknowledged their new accounts will lose their certifications when it comes time for renewal. The API has tried numerous times to contact all those who have not switched to the new portal.

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