HomeLearnCase StudiesCase Study: Optimizing Inspection Costs by $5MM – The Return of Risk-Based Inspection in Petrochemicals

Case Study: Optimizing Inspection Costs by $5MM – The Return of Risk-Based Inspection in Petrochemicals

Learn how we helped a major petrochemical plant recognize inspection savings, risk mitigation, and improved compliance through the implementation of a comprehensive mechanical integrity (MI) and Risk-Based Inspection (RBI) program.

The Challenge

A major petrochemical plant in Baytown, Texas, produces a variety of chemical products that are critical in the manufacturing of thousands of consumer and industrial products. This facility must maintain peak performance daily to meet its output and profitability goals.

Loss-of-containment incidents within petrochemical and specialty chemical facilities can often have lasting safety, environmental, and financial impacts. Due to the increasing number of these leak and spill occurrences, in addition to higher regulatory oversight, the value of effectively and efficiently managing risk is now more critical than ever—that’s why the establishment of a comprehensive and adaptable mechanical integrity (MI) and Risk-Based Inspection (RBI) program is a growing priority among the petrochemical industry.

This company’s Baytown facility wanted to take a proactive approach to managing its mechanical integrity inspection activities. The inspection department managed their visual and ultrasonic thickness inspections using Meridium®’s Inspection Manager and Thickness Manager Modules, but they wanted to optimize their inspections on both fixed equipment and piping. For that reason, they decided to perform a RBI assessment on two of its fixed equipment and piping units, using the API RBI® calculator. Originally, the facility leaned toward completing the project internally, but several risks were identified with this approach, including:

  • A high cost of program development due to a lack of MI/RBI implementation expertise
  • Significant time requirements outside the scope of employees’ schedules
  • Data quality issues due to potential inconsistencies in extracting data from documentation

Pinnacle's Solution

Recognizing the value of a third-party vendor whose expertise is in building, implementing and maintaining MI/RBI programs, the company outsourced its project to Pinnacle.

Based on the client’s specific needs, the following tactics were implemented during the project:

  • Assembled hierarchal electronic library of all the MI-related documentation for both units.
  • From the assembled library, Pinnacle extracted all pertinent design and operating data and format for upload into the RBI software.
  • Circuitized and systemized all process and utility piping on the facility’s AutoCAD Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams (P&IDs) by utilizing Pinnacle’s proprietary Circuitizer™ software.
  • Combined American Petroleum Institute (API) 571, 581 and National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) reference data with corrosion SME expertise to develop a damage model for the equipment and piping.
  • Overlaid the damage model data on the facility Process Flow Diagrams (PFDs) to yield Corrosion Modeling Diagrams (CMDs).
  • Utilized API RBI® software to perform RBI analysis.
  • Relayed pertinent design, operating, and inspection data to the client for upload into the Meridium® Inspection Data Management System (IDMS).
  • Developed RBI plans for both equipment and piping.
  • Created piping inspection isometrics for the two units, organized by circuit and formatted to the client’s standards.


Due to Pinnacle’s expertise, software fluency and project management capabilities, the MI/RBI program enabled the facility to see a unified program yield substantial investment returns. The following benefits were revealed:

Inspection Savings

Performing the RBI analysis resulted in a drastic reduction in the number of required internal inspections and a total theoretical inspection savings of more than $5MM over the course of five years.

Risk Mitigation:

Equipment ranking above the company’s risk threshold was diagnosed and addressed so that the recommended inspection plan, when implemented, will lower the hazard of the high-risk items by 80 percent.

Improved Compliance:

This project ensured a risk-based approach was developed for both piping and equipment, including a quick reference for process safety documentation (design and inspection documentation).

Thanks to the company’s proactive approach of hiring an outside vendor to implement its MI/RBI program, it was able to see significant inspection savings and risk mitigation. With Pinnacle’s help, the company created an efficient long-term strategy that is expected to pay dividends well into the future.

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