If you’re an engineer or specialize in manufacturing, then you may be familiar with the piping and circuit systems within manufacturing plants and on their rooftops.
These metallic piping systems and their pressure-relieving mechanisms require regular maintenance, repairs, alterations, and inspection to stay up to code. Otherwise, your piping system could malfunction, leaving the door wide open to several potentially dangerous environmental impacts. Malfunctions could also pose risks to workers in a plant or out in the field.
How are these risks avoided? The API 570 Piping Inspection, designed by the American Petroleum Institute, covers the inspection, repair, alteration, and rerating procedures for all in-service metallic or fiberglass-reinforced plastic piping systems.
Maintaining the safety and operational integrity of a piping system can be done with regular maintenance and inspections covered in API 570.
What is API Used For?
The American Petroleum Institute, or API, was formed in 1919 to set standards for industries using natural gas and oil. Things have changed since that time, however, so the API has evolved to include more than just an industry focus.
Knowing how to maintain standards of operation in the gas and oil industries is important, but the API is now designed with a greater purpose in mind ━ safety, efficiency, and sustainability. Environmental factors are a heavy consideration in the gas and oil industries, and more than 700 standards are now in place to regulate how various mechanical, tank, and piping systems affect environmental, public, and employee health and safety.
What is the API 570?
The API 570 is a specific code for in-service metallic and fiberglass/plastic piping systems as well as any pressure-relieving systems associated with the pipes. It sets the standard for regular maintenance of these piping systems as well as dictates the circumstances that would require a repair or alteration of the pipes.
API 570 Standards
The API 570 Piping Inspection dives into several pieces and substances within piping systems:
- Process fluids
- Chemical products
- Natural gas
- High-pressure gasses
- Other flammable or toxic fluids or gasses
While this code was initially created to incorporate just petroleum and chemical industries, it now includes any industry that uses a piping system to transport/transfer any potentially hazardous liquid or gaseous substance.
Accepted Inspection Methods
Inspecting in-service (and temporarily out-of-service) piping systems goes beyond traditional internal and external inspections. The API 570 Piping Inspection code details that other assessments are acceptable for evaluating the systems and parts.
Used by the oil and gas industries, the Fitness-for-Service Assessment (FFS) sets standards for in-service equipment and its “fitness” for continued use. The FFS sets limits for maintenance and repair tolerance and allows for engineers and operators to determine flaws in the equipment being assessed. Once determined, they can use good engineering practices to determine which flaws in the equipment are acceptable and which are deemed “unfit.”
According to FFS best practices, most small flaws do not interfere with the normal function of equipment, meaning that the equipment can continue in-service. Fixing something minor would drop equipment cost efficiency in the long run.
Take an oil or gas pipeline or piping system, for example. Using FFS best practices as well as considering what repairs may be needed, inspectors can determine the likelihood of keeping the pipeline in service. If there is a small flaw within the pressure system that doesn’t interfere with normal operation, it may be an acceptable flaw. But if there is a crack in the piping system that would cause a potential leak of hazardous liquids or gasses, the flaw would be unacceptable, and a repair would be required.
Rather than inspecting based on conditions and standards for equipment operation, a risk-based inspection (RBI) uses probability of failure and consequence of failure to calculate the risk associated with service equipment (in this case, a piping system).
Probability of failure is the likelihood that the in-service equipment could fail at any given point in time. Consequence of failure determines what could happen as a result of failure, including but not limited to environmental hazards, health risks, facility damages, and fiscal responsibilities.
For piping systems under the API 570, inspection cycles are broken down into circuits which are then broken down into classes #1 through #4.
These classes are ranked based on risk potential with #1 holding the greatest risk potential. The higher the risk potential of the piping system and its pressure-relieving parts, the more frequent the inspection cycle will occur.
- Class #1: Ultrasonic Thickness Test (UTT) and Visual External Inspection once every five years
- Class #2: UTT every 10 years and Visual External Inspection every five years
- Class #3: UTT and Visual External Inspection every 10 years
- Class #4: Inspections optional
How Are Inspectors Certified?
The minimum requirement for taking the API examination is a two-year degree in engineering or technology paired with a minimum two years of skills and experience in design, repair, construction, operation, or inspection of pressure tanks. This includes one year of fully supervised inspection activities with someone who is already API certified.
Passing the API exam requires a minimum 70 percent correct answers and will lead to your API ICEP (American Petroleum Institute Inspector Certification Endorsement Program) endorsement for that particular program.
The more an inspector knows and understands about each service area, the better the inspection planning and execution will be. In the petroleum and chemical industries, being a certified inspector comes with a strong respect. It is a certification that is highly desired in this industry, with inspectors being regarded worldwide for being fully knowledgeable of industry inspection codes and standards while also following the latest inspection practices.
Hire a Certified STI or API Professional Today
We are only as good as the service we provide, and we go the extra mile to ensure all of our personnel are trained to industry standards.
At NDT Tanknicians, we embrace the tough challenge set in place to be certified by entities such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA,) American Petroleum Institute (API,) Steel Tank Institute (STI,) American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT,) and the National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE,) to name a few.
Know that your equipment and standards are in good hands with API-certified professionals who will check your piping system inside and out with the utmost caution.