From Fitness for Service to a Reliability-Based Mechanical Integrity Program - A Journey from the Ashes to Sustained Reliability (RMC-10-30)

The fitness for service/salvage study was completed on the fractionator on January 28, 2005. As a result of the study, the Alberta Boiler Standards Administration (ABSA) allowed the repaired fractionator and upgrader to be brought back to full production a year earlier than expected. Following the study we began implementing a risk based inspection program based on the API 580 certified reliability based mechanical integrity (RBMI) technology and work processes.

- Reliability and Maintenance Conference,

From Fitness for Services to a Reliability Based MI Program

RMC-10-30 From Fitness for Service to a Reliability- Based Mechanical Integrity Program - A Journey from the Ashes to Sustained Reliability


From fitness for service to a reliability based mechanical integrity program - a journey from the ashes to sustained reliability.

On Friday, February 04, 2005, Suncor Energy announced that a ruptured recycle line was most likely the cause of a January 4 fire that damaged one of the company's two oil sands upgraders.

Suncor's preliminary findings suggest a recycle line that filters heavy oil from the fractionator before rerouting it back through the tower ruptured and released hydrocarbon vapor, which ignited. The fractionator is a processing unit that separates crude oil products. The ruptured recycle line was not lined with stainless steel, which is used to prevent corrosion. It is likely that corrosion caused the line to rupture. Source:

RIGZONE NEWS provided by - Source: Suncor Energy

Following the fire that damaged the main fractionator, Suncor conducted a fire damage assessment that would enable the upgrader to be brought back on line as early as safely possible. The fire damage assessment was performed based on API RP 579: Fitness-For-Service. The result of the study enabled the upgrader to be brought safely back into production a year ahead of expectations avoiding an opportunity cost exceeding $300 million. This paper describes that study along with Suncor's subsequent implementation of a risk based inspection program to mitigate the possible occurrence of a similar, future catastrophic event.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Fire Damage Assessment
  • Remaining Life Assessment
  • Integrity of the cladding inside the fractionator
  • Defining Heat Exposure Zones
  • Insulation Jacketing
  • Concluding statement and actual state of the fractionator
  • Cause of Damage
  • Extent of the Damage
  • Description of the Defect
  • Further Inspection Required
  • Basis for the Final Assessment
  • Next steps to achieve and ensure mechanical integrity

The paper was presented in San Antonio at the NPRA Reliability Conference on May 25-28, 2010.

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