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Overview of API RP 581 - Risk Based Inspection Technology

API RP 581, Risk-Based Inspection Technology, Third Edition, is a recommended practice developed and published by the American Petroleum Institute (API) to provide quantitative risk-based inspection (RBI) methods that support the minimum guidelines presented by API RP 580. Originally released in 2000 and last updated in April of 2016 (third edition), this document details the procedures and methodology of RBI, an integrated methodology that uses risk as a basis for prioritizing and managing an in-service equipment inspection program by analyzing both the likelihood and the consequences of equipment failure.

Risk-based inspection (RBI) is a methodology that involves quantitative assessment of the probability of failure (PoF) and the consequence of failure (CoF) associated with each equipment item in a particular process unit. A properly-implemented RBI program categorizes individual pieces of equipment by their risks, prioritizes inspection efforts, and provides guidance for risk mitigation efforts, such as changes in materials of construction, the addition of linings, changes in operating conditions, etc.

API RP 581 was based on the knowledge and experience of several global practitioners of RBI with extensive experience in its implementation. According to API 581, an RBI program has four major goals:

  1. Identify and measure risk for all covered equipment.
  2. Impart an accurate understanding of risks and risk drivers.
  3. Enable effective risk management.
  4. Reduce risks associated with operating processing facilities.


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