Inspectioneering Journal

Establishing Risk Thresholds or Targets for RBI

By Greg Alvarado, Chief Editor at Inspectioneering. This article appears in the July/August 2017 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.


Establishing risk targets is an important aspect of any RBI (risk-based inspection) program. It is a requirement of the API Recommended Practice 580 (see the section, Required Elements in RBI, General, Work Process Requirements, bullet #6 on page ix, of the Third Edition, published in February of 2016. (Also see Section 16, RBI Documentation and Record Keeping, General, bullet f on page 73.). Many people ask what that threshold should be. What are others doing?

  1. In the US, there are no regulatory requirements, federal or state, dictating risk thresholds or targets.
  2. It is up to the owner/operator to determine risk targets or thresholds.
  3. Whether or not you are using RBI, there are risks associated with owning and operating any processing facility.
  4. Your company likely has a corporate risk matrix used for decision-making at various levels. Review the probability and consequence criteria to get an idea of your risk tolerance at those levels, just for reference later.

API RP 581 Risk-Based Inspection Methodology, Third Edition released April 2016 (API RP 581) provides the context for this short article. Fortunately, it is a quantitative RBI methodology that can produce metrics for managing risk and identifying risk drivers. Consistency and reproducibility are more inherent in more quantitative practices, which are more systematic, than qualitative practices as quantitative practices require more actual data, are more structured, and rely less on judgement as input to the risk analysis. The metrics and consistency are an important considerations for those actually using RBI to measure and manage risks (versus just eliminating equipment from a turnaround or just saving money) as part of their decision-making process (keep in mind that all RBI methods are based on relative, not absolute, risk. Therefore, consistency is vital to the credibility of the result).

Note Well: Of course, there are other RBI methodologies. Companies are implementing and have implemented RBI in oil and gas (upstream, midstream, and downstream), chemical, pharmaceutical and petrochemical processing facilities around the world in various countries and jurisdictions.


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Comments and Discussion

Posted by [Removed] on August 23, 2017
Thanks Greg, good appraisal of an important... Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

(Inspectioneering) Posted by Greg Alvarado on August 23, 2017
Thanks Scott. And thanks for introducing me to... Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

Posted by Lynne Kaley on August 24, 2017
Thanks for the comment Scott. I reviewed the... Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

Posted by Edwin Merrick on September 25, 2017
Excellent article. As you pointed out - the... Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

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