Many facilities have implemented Risk-Based Inspection (RBI) programs; however, they struggle to quantify the value of the savings of the RBI program in dollars. We understand it’s not easy. We’re going to present a case study in which we completed an RBI project for an upstream gas company in the Middle East.

We will discuss how we quantified value to this client, and hopefully those of you who are in the process of implementing RBI can gather some takeaways so that you can quantify value at your facilities as well.

Risk-Based Inspection (RBI) Implementation

PinnacleART’s RBI implementations follow a process of assessing, strategizing, implementing, and supporting.

Assess, Strategy, Implement, Support

For the assessment, we spent a few days onsite with different groups to understand current state and desired future state. After the assessment, we compared the gathered data against industry standards, which helped to identify the strategy of how to get to best in class.

During the strategy phase, we included key stakeholders from the site—inspections, the engineering team, the corrosion team—to help develop the methodology as to how to calculate probability of failure (POF) and consequence of failure (COF) in the software and determine desired results. Once the strategy was complete and validated, we implemented those configurations into the software.

In total, the implementation took about 16 to 18 months for the facility, which had about 600 pieces of fixed equipment. Once the implementation was done, we then provided ongoing support to help troubleshoot any issues with the system and provide additional training for new resources.

Quantifying Return on Investment (ROI)

So how did we quantify return on investment? In the graphic below, we have an example for a typical gas unit going into turnaround cycles every five years, where the shutdown is about half a month. Here the availability is about 99.4%. If you calculate it out for 20 years, that means out of 240 months, the gas unit will be available for 238.5 months.

Availability of Gas Unit

In the case where RBI is implemented, you are able to extend the interval and also optimize your downtime, because with RBI, you are able to prioritize your inspection for high-risk assets and either perform lower inspections or defer the low-risk asset items. With this model, availability increases by 0.3% for just one unit.

Now in terms of dollars, how can we quantify this? If we assume this plant is producing around 22,000 barrels of oil equivalent, with the price of oil around $50 a barrel, and we are optimizing the shutdown frequency from five to seven years, availability will increase by 0.1%. Also, if downtime is reduced from 15 to 10 days, production revenue will increase by almost $8MM. But if you do both—optimize shutdown frequency and reduce downtime—it can increase your availability and your production revenue by almost $16MM (forecasted over a 20-year period).

Quantified Value of RBI

This is the equation we used to come up with that value, and at the particular site where we implemented RBI, we had an immediate savings of $4MM. The site had a turnaround planned for about 15 days, and with this model, we reduced the shutdown time to just six days. This allowed them to continue production. Since this was in 2016 when the price of oil was just $30 a barrel, it was critical to ensure they kept making money from this unit.

For the turnaround, we focused our efforts first on the turnaround assets—what we can defer until the next turnaround or what we can perform on-stream inspections on in lieu of doing internal inspections during the turnaround. Once we determined that, the client saw an immediate savings of $4MM.

Value of RBI

Key results of the RBI implementation included:

  • Increased risk awareness to manage and mitigate high-risk items
  • Optimized inspection planning and costs
  • Reduced safety impacts and downtime due to unforeseen failures

One of the biggest benefits we saw is that the site now has a much better understanding of risk. Greater risk awareness means operations, maintenance, inspection personnel, and process engineering all now understand where the higher-risk assets are, and they can all perform their jobs slightly better because of it.

Other benefits included optimized inspection planning—we saw inspection intervals increasing and the duration of turnarounds decreasing. We also saw a reduction of safety impacts by preventing potential failures and preventing downtime due to those failures.

Example – Failure Prevention

Here is an example of a potential failure which was prevented:

A production separator was last inspected in 2010 (internal visual inspection), and the UTs were done in 2007. After the RBI analysis, we were able to identify that the major susceptibility for damage was from internal localized corrosion—mainly pitting—so we were able to come up with a strategy in which non-intrusive inspections were performed at the bottom shell where we anticipated damage, and we were able to identify and quantify how much corrosion or loss there was.

With that, we were able to see if we needed to shut down immediately or if we could defer to the upcoming turnaround. In this case, we put an inspection plan in place to measure that spot every month to see if we could continue deferring an internal inspection until the next turnaround.

This helped during the turnaround because it reduced discovery work. Since the team was already aware that there was a coating failure and pitting, they had the vendors and the manpower ready and they accounted for the extra repairs in their turnaround time. Since discovery time was shortened, we were able to reduce the overall turnaround time-frame.

Successes

Major successes stemming from the RBI implementation included:

  • Optimized equipment availability
  • Increased average intervals between inspections
  • More focused inspection planning
  • Increased on-stream inspection utilization
  • Sustainable evergreening
  • Increased knowledge about the facility across teams

Some of the major successes that we have discussed include increased availability and also being able to use more focused inspection planning—being able to leverage non-intrusive techniques to help reduce discovery work and get the same amount of credit as part of the API 581 Inspection Effectiveness Guidelines. This does not mean we are never going to inspect the vessel or equipment internally—we have some maximum frequency that we are accepting—but it also ensures that non-intrusive inspections can get us safely to the next turnaround.

One of the major deliverables we provided was a circuit-level RBI report, which contains all the information about the equipment operating conditions, last inspection, basic information and history, and the damage mechanisms. This deliverable also provides current POF level, consequence level, and the risk driver, which is helpful for planning appropriately. The major benefit was getting to know not only the current risk, but also what the risk will be at the time the inspection is due. It enables you to see if a vessel needs to be opened up or if a non-intrusive technique can be used to push it to the next turnaround. We configured the software to not only provide the next due date, but also to determine if an A-level or B-level inspection is performed at that due date, what the subsequent due date would be and if that is acceptable to meet the turnaround demands.

You will then draw the equipment on the corporate risk matrix to understand where it falls and have any major assumptions or comments listed so that you have a one-page report that will list each and every thing about that asset to make your informed decisions about risk mitigation.

Automated KPI Reports

KPI reports we generated include:

  • List of inspections due (by year and by resource)
  • Assets with risk levels and due dates (HL vs. RBI)
  • TMLs below T-min
  • TMLs approaching alarm levels (remaining CA)
  • TMLs below 0.1” thick
  • Assets with missing key data

The list of equipment inspections due each year or in a group of years is helpful for resource and budget planning well in advance. It’s important to get a list of assets not only from the RBI assessment, but also from your half-life, T-min, or fixed interval assessment so it’s an overview of your entire mechanical integrity program and not just your RBI program.

The list of inspections for each resource or asset type gives employees an understanding of the workload being anticipated for the year. They can then work with the managers to ensure the right resources are in place for the workload. Other reports include TMLs below your T-min and TMLs which are very close to T-min, or maybe 0.1 inches or less. These reports help create an understanding of the potential failures that may be coming up.

Having a list of assets that had key missing information helped the facility know if they needed to go get certain information for a particular asset and prioritize or engage different departments accordingly.

Sustainability and Evergreening

In terms of sustainability and evergreening, the individual maintaining the RBI program needs to be fully familiar with how the whole RBI system works. This person will also be responsible for managing permission levels in the software and for attending Management of Change (MOC) meetings, PHA meetings, and other meetings that are related to integrity. It’s critical that the RBI team is included in the MOC process–we want to make sure that the RBI team is participating in the PHAs and making updates to risk profiles wherever necessary.

Takeaways

One of the major takeaways is that the facility now has a clear understanding of inspection methodology and time frames that should be used for every single type of equipment, based on the risk of the asset. Inspection time frames have been extended, duration of turnarounds have been reduced, and there is a good understanding of residual risk at a subsequent turnaround or subsequent due date.

One thing that we were able to do differently was, when starting to implement the RBI program, we made sure to have the right asset types included in that program and to prioritize assets based on previous criticality (the key assets that can shut down the unit). Focus the RBI implementation on these assets first.

From a timing perspective, if possible, try to complete the implementation well in advance before the turnaround so you can get biggest bang for your buck. And finally, when possible, leverage non-intrusive inspection heavily in lieu of internal inspections to get the maximum benefit in terms of dollar spending.

Curious how RBI can add value at your facility?