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In a recent case study, an organization wanted a generic risk-based inspection (RBI) program that could be deployed to facilities across all operating regions. This generic RBI program would define the standard approach to manage mechanical integrity across all equipment.
The integrated energy company and oil and gas supermajor maintains various energy operations, such as gas, biofuels, wind, solar and hydrocarbons, across the globe. Each of the organization’s hydrocarbon facilities maintain risk-based inspection (RBI) programs to achieve safe, compliant and reliable operations. Although each facility has implemented a standardized RBI approach for its equipment, they have identified inconsistencies and inefficiencies in the evergreening of RBI programs.
Specific challenges the organization faced include
- Personnel across different regions interpret standardized guidance differently, creating the opportunity for inconsistency in equipment strategies between regions;
- Equipment strategies are evergreened through a labor-intensive work process that requires significant support from contractors to maintain;
- The organization does not have a centralized system to quickly deploy lessons learned to the regions, lengthening the timeline to share lessons learned across regions; and
- When regions perform an RBI assessment, it can take multiple months to perform the initial assessment and similar time to perform evergreening.
With the goal of becoming more efficient and safely producing affordable hydrocarbon energy and products, the company identified an opportunity to improve its asset integrity management practices across its upstream oil and gas facilities. Therefore, the company made the decision to develop an innovative, generic approach to RBI that could be used across all facilities.
The challenge was then to create a generic RBI framework, based on internal and industry best practices, that defines the optimum way to manage the mechanical integrity of equipment across all regions.
Systematic approach to RBI
With the goal of developing a systematic approach to RBI, the organization asked Pinnacle to partner to achieve this vision. Pinnacle was selected as a partner based on its experience in the development, implementation and evergreening of RBI programs. Using an agile process, the partnership leveraged the appropriate expertise, planning and technical resources to develop a framework for RBI that can be deployed across the company’s entire organization in near-real time.
The RBI framework uses generic strategies that range from the identification of the credible damage mechanism to the selection of an inspection technique at the facility, all of which are accessible in centralized digital tools. The generic strategies function similarly to templates that can be copied to different assets across multiple regions. These strategies leverage both internal best practices and current best practices from the broader industry.
The digital tools housing the framework use data based on the generic strategies to automatically generate outputs and provide rapid deployment faster than a traditional implementation. This approach can be easily maintained and managed by a central technical team, rather than relying on experts at each region to interpret guidance that resides in static documents. Because it is digitally based, the framework will also be continuously updated as lessons are learned and technology develops.
The design and development of the inspection program are turning the vision of a generic integrity management strategy into a reality. The organization’s upstream facilities across the globe will soon be equipped to use a common best practice framework to develop and sustain their integrity management programs more efficiently and more consistently.
By providing digital access to the framework, which features common engineering rule sets, the organization will see systematic risk reduction and continuous improvement, all supported by the organization’s subject matter experts.
“The [standardized] inspection program has adopted a completely different mindset and approach to integrity management that will help the organization achieve safe, consistent and cost-effective operations,” according to a senior adviser of corrosion engineering.
While the project is still under development, the regions have been able to leverage key generic framework components, which have been fully developed within their current program ahead of full-scale deployment to achieve three quantified benefits. These benefits include reductions in annual inspection spend, risk determination and engineering effort.
Efforts thus far are showing up to a 20% reduction in overall annual inspection spend across all global facilities.
The organization’s previous RBI programs over-estimated risk, but with the new RBI framework, risk has been reestablished, resulting in an up to 45% reduction in risk determination—meaning that the equipment is at lower risk than originally assigned. By lowering the assigned risk, the organization will be able to save money by focusing on assets with the highest risk.
Through the new framework, engineering effort has been reduced by up to 50%—meaning the organization’s engineers are spending less time performing RBI assessments on equipment, because the generic framework provides the outputs faster and more efficiently. Instead, the engineers can focus on bad actors and other high-risk assets that require far more detailed engineering analysis.
Using appropriate planning and technical resources, the company was able to realize its vision of developing an innovative generic RBI framework to deploy to its facilities around the globe. Though the full-scale deployment has not yet occurred, the organization hit a key project milestone of confirming the success and viability of the technical framework.
As a result, the organization is preparing to move forward with plans to deploy content to all facilities in the coming year. Once fully deployed, each facility will be able to use the centralized RBI framework to adopt more efficient, consistent and safe processes for integrity management.
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