Learn how we implemented a piping reliability program that turned a compliance project into a 3X Return on Investment (ROI) for a refiner. The implementation of this program was an important, calculated step in the operator’s evolution toward an effective RBI program.
The impact of LOC events can range from a loss of profit to serious Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) consequences. A strong, integrated mechanical integrity (MI) program can help facilities satisfy compliance regulations, improve reliability performance, and prevent LOC events from occurring. Having standardized, scalable asset strategies that strategically target inspections will help facilities proactively identify potential risks, understand those risks and drivers, and prevent LOC events before they occur.
This refiner experienced two massive LOC events at multiple sites, which resulted in astronomical expenses and compliance violations. One of the events was caused by a leak in a section of insulated carbon steel piping that had thinned over time due to corrosion. As a result of the event, the refiner was required to implement inspection strategies across various piping classes to prevent future leaks.
Before the events, the refiner struggled to proactively identify and mitigate LOC risks and lacked an integrated, holistic MI program. Additionally, there was no formal system in place to flag assets that violated the acceptable range for process operating conditions. Further, some sites relied more heavily on the knowledge of experienced materials engineers and inspectors than others, and as a result, the quality of document organization varied by site.
To address these challenges and meet compliance, the operator needed to develop and implement a series of inspection strategies across its fixed equipment and piping that would enable employees to proactively identify, manage, and mitigate LOC risks at a system level and satisfy Recognized and Generally Accepted Good Engineering Practices (RAGAGEP). Specifically, these strategies needed to include a defined set of integrity operating windows (IOWs), change management criteria, and processes that would guide when to act on assets before they violated the acceptable process condition ranges.
Initially, the refiner attempted to implement these strategies on its own and quickly realized it needed additional resources and MI expertise. Additionally, some site leadership worried that they would not have the necessary resources to keep up with the increased level of inspection required when the initial and recurring inspection intervals started to overlap. Ultimately, Pinnacle was brought in to implement a standardized program that would strategically target areas to inspect and could be replicated across all sites.
As part of the solution, the Pinnacle team worked with the refiner to create a set of corporate piping standards. These standards, which were rolled out across four sites, focused on improving the operation and maintenance of the operator’s fixed equipment and preserving the piping’s pressure boundaries. The primary goal of the implementation was to provide the refiner with standardized drawings that could be leveraged by multiple sites and disciplines, including inspectors, processes, designs, and turnaround planning.
The scope of the project included the following:
The program implementation yielded a 3X ROI for the operator. The inspection strategies cost approximately $100MM to implement and the resulting deliverables identified over 200 integrity threat recommendations (ITRs). Since these ITRs were identified prior to causing failures, the operator was able to prevent the significant costs that would occur if the piping failed. The operator calculated that if 50% of these threats had resulted in failure events, the probable cost of incidence (COI) would have totaled hundreds of millions of dollars.
Additionally, the program implementation established a systematic inspection strategy that can be replicated across additional sites and equipment types. The standardization of inspection strategies at these four sites reduced the operator’s CML count by 27.4% and enabled the operator to proactively identify, manage, and mitigate LOC risks, helping the operator meet compliance.
The implementation of piping inspection strategies helped the refiner take a step towards having a more integrated, holistic MI program. With these new strategies in place, the operator is able to better focus its approach to risk management across various classes of piping and will ensure that these sites meet compliance.