Asset integrity management - Velocity Flash

    Whilst most of us will have heard of Asset Integrity Management (AIM), few of us would agree on what it is -and what it isn't. This lack of clarity remains an issue for both operators and service providers in the oil and gas, refining and petrochemical industries. Frequent reference to Process Safety Management (PSM), AIM’s close cousin, further clouds the issue.

    AIM has its roots in mechanical integrity program which was practiced in the above industries long before the terminology AIM was used. These programs included things like inspections, corrosion monitoring, chemical treatments and testing of process protective devices.

    However, the Cullen Report, which summarised findings of the 1987 terrible Piper alpha disaster, clearly showed factors beyond mechanical integrity were also involved. Root causes included not only the physical plant but also people and the processes they used. Review of other lesser major accidents showed similarities.

    In that plant, people and process deficiencies contributed. Based on the above it was concluded that in order to prevent major accidents and ensure safe / reliable operations, people and process integrity management was eventually adopted to describe this more comprehensive approach.

    Asset Integrity Management Systems (AIMS)
    In order to effectively manage anything, a systematic approach is needed. Following what was done for safety and environmental programs, most operators have arranged their AIM efforts based on the ISO 9000 series approach. This uses the familiar “Plan, Do, Measure and Improve” Cycle.

    Asset Integrity Management Requirements
    By now, most major and even smaller operators in the oil, gas, pipeline, petrochemical and refining industries have established internal standards or recommended practices for AIM. In all cases I have seen these involve people, process and plant aspects as noted above. The number of elements of AIM requirements vary based on company, starting from 8 in the simplest version to 16.

    Most are closely aligned to API Recommended Practice RP-750, Management of Process
    Hazards, also referred to as PSM. In essence the difference between AIM and PSM is that PSM only looks at process hazards whereas AIM will also consider non process hazards, for example, logistics, transportation, weather, third party damage, etc.

    Using a very simple example, the following are generally covered in AIM standards and practices:

    Based on these requirements it is evident that partnering with experience in this field can significantly help the plant operator achieve his AIM goals for safe and reliable operations. Engineering features prominently in the “Plan and Measure” phases of AIM with Implementation more important in the “Do and Improve” phases.

    Specifically you should look for major contributions in the following areas:

    Risk assessments, HAZOPS, SIL and studies and RBI
    • Development and management of AIM programs
    RCM and QRA studies
    • Fitness for Service studies
    Pipeline Integrity programs
    • QA/QC programs, including Vendor Surveillance
    Specialised engineering manpower supply
    • Inspection, Planning and Implementation
    • Equipment certification
    • AIM Audits

    These types of jobs are essential for safe operation of any facility and are generally entrusted to external consultants like Applus+Velosi. The urgency to get AIM in place has increased due to recent major oil industry incidents and it will continue to play an important role in the future.
    Dr. Stephen Ciaraldi, Senior Integrity Management Specialist in Applus+ Velosi

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