Nearly five years ago, an oil and gas company with exploration and production activities began expanding its gas facilities to meet the rising demand of a growing industrial base in that region. Asset integrity of these facilities had historically been achieved through a time based inspection (TBI) approach. Although this approach had made it possible to keep operating assets in good condition over many years, its efficiency was affected by an increasing number of assets and facilities built to enhance production and counteract depletion of reservoirs. This led to high associated costs and resources needed to meet the requirements of the mechanical integrity program. Hence, the company felt the urgent need to optimize its inspection program.
Most operating companies are aware of Risk-Based Inspection (RBI). However, they still have reservations about transitioning from a TBI to an RBI approach. Throughout our careers, we have been involved in the implementation of RBI programs in several facilities, and in all cases have faced the counteracting human effects of the “resistance-to-change” behavior. This resistance to break the mold and try something relatively new, like the RBI methodology, is much stronger in vintage upstream oil and gas facilities. Using the very challenging, but successful, transition from a TBI to an RBI approach in the above mentioned upstream facility as a case study, we can outline the following four major realized benefits out of the RBI implementation: