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7 Questions You Need to Answer when Establishing an Integrity Management Progra...

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7 Questions You Need to Answer when


Establishing an Integrity Management Program
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By Loganatha Pandian at Meridium, Inc.. This article appears in the November/December 2016 issue
of Inspectioneering Journal

• Table of Contents
• Introduction
• 1. Are Thickness Monitoring Locations (TMLs) identified for all our assets?
• 2. Are the TMLs optimally identified?
• 3. What are the top 10 assets with the highest corrosion rate?
• 4. What is the optimal TML inspection schedule?
• 5. Which assets are nearing retirement?
• 6. How long can I safely stretch my asset run life?
• 7. How do I identify and manage my Tmin levels?
• Conclusion

Introduction
Corrosion issues in the complex world of the process industries can be daunting if they are not
managed effectively. According to the latest information from the National Association of Corrosion
Engineers (NACE), the total annual cost of corrosion in the United States is around $1.4 billion in the
Oil and Gas Exploration and Production industry, $3.7 billion in the Petroleum Refining industry, $1.7
million in the Petrochemical industry, and $6 billion in the Pulp and Paper industry. This gives a fair
estimate of corrosion mitigation opportunities across the globe. Out of the various types of corrosion
mechanisms, uniform, general corrosion is the most common form and one of the major contributors
to corrosion costs. The good news, however, is it is the most manageable type of corrosion if properly
understood, typically much more so than localized corrosion and cracking.

A robust mechanical integrity program that is properly designed to monitor corrosion and indicate
when issues increase to a level requiring review or maintenance is key to mitigating and managing
corrosion. This integrity program should be universally accepted and consistently applied across the
organization to ensure corrosion is managed holistically. In creating this program, there are seven key
questions that an organization needs to answer, which are summarized below.

1. Are Thickness Monitoring Locations (TMLs) identified for all


our assets?
The answer to this does not necessarily need to be an astounding ‘Yes’. The inclusion of an asset in
the thickness monitoring program depends on its susceptibility to thinning corrosion. It is possible to
get to this level of understanding only by doing a systematic ‘Corrosion Study’ which identifies
corrosion loops. Corrosion loops are process circuits with similar operating conditions, metallurgy,
and damage mechanisms. A professionally developed corrosion report gives insight into the damage
mechanisms, expected corrosion rates, and integrity operating windows that need to be monitored and
controlled for each corrosion circuit. This can then be used as a starting point to identify assets with
thinning corrosion mechanisms to be included in the thickness monitoring program thereby identifying
the TMLs.

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2. Are the TMLs optimally identified?


Organizations need to know what the criticality of the asset is in terms of damage probability and
consequence of a failure. With thousands of assets to manage, it’s nearly impossible to closely monitor
each individually. Asset criticality analysis gives organizations a way to measure or rank the risk
associated with each asset so that management can more accurately prioritize the assets that are higher
risk. The degree of classification depends on the size and capabilities of the organization, but generally
speaking, the lowest level of criticality reflects an asset that is likely less severe in terms of safety and
production consequences; thereby incurring lower consequential costs in the event of an asset failure.
In contrast, a high criticality asset represents an asset that would result in high costs for an
organization, both in terms of maintenance, as well as lost production, if it were to fail.

For instance, a pressure vessel handling water or air could be low in safety consequence due to its
nature of being non-toxic and non-flammable, but at the same time it could be high in production
consequence if it is a single line equipment and therefore critical to production. Alternatively, a
hydrocarbon vessel could be high in safety consequence due to its toxic or flammable nature, but low
in production consequence if it has a stand-by equipment or by-pass facility.

Determining the criticality level of an asset can be done by carrying out a qualitative criticality
analysis, which is a risk-based approach that takes into consideration both the likelihood and the
consequence of an asset failure. In addition to this qualitative analysis, a company could consider
quantitative risk assessment (QRA) technique, Hazards and Operability Analysis (HAZOP) or What-If
analysis to identify worst case scenarios and associated potential consequences of an asset failure or
downtime. Ultimately, the criticality of the asset can then be used to determine the population of
TMLs (i.e., high population for high critical assets and low population for low critical assets).

3. What are the top 10 assets with the highest corrosion rate?
It is important to have a process for systematically identifying TMLs, as well as a central repository
for storing thickness measurement information. This data collection and analysis should be at an
appropriate level of specificity to accurately assess corrosion rates. Different equipment may
experience different rates of corrosion depending on a variety of external factors, such as weather
conditions, geographic location, external protection, operating temperatures, etc., for external
corrosion and internal environmental factors, such as fluid corrosivity, process contamination,
operating pressure, and operating temperatures.

Tracking and storing historical thickness readings is the first step. Organizations can then use this
database to identify key trends in corrosion rates (least square, long term and short term) and
determine controlling corrosion rate (CCR) of individual assets based on maximum, average or
statistical roll-up criteria. The database can then be queried to extract this information on a company-
wide scale, site-wide or unit-wide as per level of responsibility in the organization.

4. What is the optimal TML inspection schedule?


Up to this point we have addressed identifying, tracking and monitoring TMLs. Next we consider the
lifecycle of assets and how that is considered in conjunction with how often TMLs should be
inspected. In order to develop the optimal TML inspection schedule, organizations can use a
‘remaining life factor’ in order to determine the appropriate inspection interval. For instance,
equipment that has an estimated remaining life of ten to fifteen years should experience slower rates of
corrosion relative to equipment that is estimated to last three to five years. In this case, the equipment
with less remaining useful life needs to be inspected more frequently than the newer equipment. The
idea of a remaining life factor ties together with asset criticality as both are key considerations when

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developing a TML inspection schedule. An asset that is higher risk, but has a longer remaining life,
may have a similar inspection schedule to an asset that is lower risk, but has a short remaining life.

Given an asset’s remaining life and criticality level (which can be based on a simple criticality analysis
or a more detailed RBI analysis), the TML inspection schedule can be set using an appropriate
remaining life factor (instead of the traditional 0.5, which means half-life). This can be defined and
managed using company-wide policies.

5. Which assets are nearing retirement?


As discussed above, organization should analyze historical trends in corrosion rates in conjunction
with remaining life calculations in order to accurately identify the criticality of an asset and the
appropriate level of TMLs, as well as the frequency at which they need to be inspected. However, this
analysis cannot be a point-in-time assessment performed once every few months or years. Companies
must have the capabilities to perform corrosion analysis and remaining life calculations in a near-to
real time basis based on new measurements and long/short term corrosion rates. This kind of analysis
cannot serve any purpose when done on an ad-hoc basis using static data; rather, organizations should
have a systematic approach with basic corrosion analysis settings for each asset in order to accurately
answer the critical question of when should an asset be retired and taken offline? Having up-to-date
information and estimates gives management the ability to manage the plant and make well-informed
inspection/maintenance decisions that will mitigate costs and safety risks.

6. How long can I safely stretch my asset run life?


In order to answer this question, one needs to understand the hidden life in each asset beyond the
provided corrosion rate. Pressure vessel designers typically provide a higher nominal thickness than
the design required thickness given the standard fabrication plate thickness commercially available in
the market. Understanding this available additional thickness for each piece of equipment can help
extend the remaining useful life. For example, the calculated pressure minimum thickness for a vessel
could be 6.8 mm and adding a corrosion allowance of 1.5 mm considering standard design life of 20
years could result in a design required thickness of 8.3 mm. However, 8.3 mm plates are not available
in the market. Hence, the designer rounds it off to the higher standard size available (i.e., 10 mm).
Now, the extra 1.7 mm (referred to an Overdesign Tmin in Figure 1) is available for corrosion in
addition to the originally designed corrosion allowance of 1.5 mm which is the hidden useful
remaining life of that equipment. This can help in systematically stepping down the minimum
thickness (Tmin) levels until the entire life of the asset is effectively utilized before it is repaired or
replaced.

7. How do I identify and manage my Tmin levels?


By being able to accurately predict when an asset will need to go offline, management can minimize
asset downtime, reduce costs to the organization and ultimately maximize asset productivity. The
following figure illustrates various minimum thickness levels that can be used to progressively
calculate remaining life and extract the complete useful life from the equipment until it reaches FFS
Tmin. The step-by-step reduction of Tmin to calculate the remaining life helps in providing sufficient
lead time to the Operation and Maintenance department to plan, procure and install new equipment.

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Figure 1. Thickness Levels for Calculating Remaining Life.

• Provided Thickness is the thickness originally provided by the designer


• CA Tmin is the minimum thickness that would initially be used to calculate remaining life
• Overdesign Tmin is the minimum thickness that can be used to calculate remaining life once
the design corrosion allowance is exhausted
• Pressure Tmin is the minimum thickness that is calculated by the equipment’s design code
calculations.
• Structural Tmin is the minimum thickness that is required for the basic structural stability of
the equipment
• FFS Tmin is the minimum thickness as a result of fitness for service calculations

Conclusion
These seven questions outline the key considerations organizations need to address when creating a
program for managing equipment in corrosive service. Best-in-class corrosion management can be
achieved by ensuring that the process is reliable and repeatable through automation, and consistently
applied across the organization. Using a robust asset performance management (APM) solution can
aid plant engineers and organizations as a whole automate their corrosion management plan and take
away some of the manual analysis and calculations that need to be done on an ongoing basis, thus
increasing efficiency and decreasing costs.

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About the Author

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Loganatha Pandian at Meridium, Inc.


Loganatha Pandian is a Mechanical Engineer at Meridium with around 12 years of experience in the
field of corrosion, inspection and integrity management. He also holds a Master’s in Business
Administration (Finance) and is certified in various American Petroleum Institute Standards including
API 580 (Risk Based Inspection), API 571 (Damage Mechanisms Affecting Fixed Equipment in the...
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