The Importance of Updating Standards, An Interview with Clay Rodery, C&S Technology

Keeping codes and standards continually up to date is crucial within any industry. Whether in a refinery, chemical plant, or offshore facility, it is important to abide by these governing standards. The work to keep them current is equally important.

Valve World Americas had the pleasure of speaking with Clay Rodery of C&S Technology about his work as a consultant in the oil & gas industry, the importance of codes and standards, as well as the opportunities for early and mid-career engineers to make changes in the industry.

By Charlie Evans & Angelica Pajkovic

Dynamic Experience

Beginning his career as a project engineer more than 30 years ago, Rodery has a wealth of experience to offer as a consultant. “I began my career at an Amoco refinery much like everyone else at that site: working as a project and maintenance engineer. From there, I moved into the inspection department providing support and oversight from an engineering and codes and standards perspective – that was where I found my niche,” he explained.

The processes and procedures involved in advising engineers throughout the refinery on how to apply codes and standards intelligently became the inspiration for his future role as a consultant.

Over the next three decades, Rodery continued to evolve his skills and know-how becoming a specialist in the engineering of pressure vessels and piping. “After the bp-Amoco merger in 1998 split the consolidated engineering department into refining, chemicals, and up- stream sectors, I found myself focused primarily on the chemical sector.”

Clay Rodery.

“The refining, chemical, and upstream sectors have been commonly regarded as three completely different industries, each with their own inherent risk profiles. As such, they all have unique requirements and properties that must be considered when assessing how to identify and mitigate risk.”

“My last title role at bp was as a Downstream Segment Engineering and Technical Authority for Pressure Vessels and Piping,” he continued. “During this time, one of my primary areas of focus was evaluating the high-level mechanical integrity risks associated with pressure equipment, including vessels, exchangers, and piping systems. I provided an independent view on how the risks were managed.”

After retiring from bp in 2018, Rodery remained active in the industry as an independent consultant under the banner of his own consulting firm, C&S Technology. Throughout his career, Rodery has been involved in the development and maintenance of technical standards, both internally within bp and with external standards organizations such as ASME, API, and PIP, and became an active member of several committees. Rodery has held the role of Chair and Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Flange Joint Assembly that is responsible for the maintenance of ASME PCC-1, Pressure Boundary Bolted Flange Joint Assembly. “Currently, I am a member of the ASME bpV Committee on Pressure Vessels, as well as the Board on Pressure Technology Codes and Standards. I am also the current Chair of the ASME Post Construction Standards Committee.”

Risk Management

Although there are many elements involved in his day-to-day operation throughout his career, one major focus of Rodery’s work has been the management of safety and operational risk. “The refining, chemical, and upstream sectors have been commonly regarded as three completely different industries, each with their own inherent risk profiles,” explained Rodery. “As such, they all have unique requirements and properties that must be considered when assessing how to identify and mitigate risk. For example, the consequences of a big leak on an offshore platform are more dire than say, a refinery in the middle of nowhere. These are the types of factors that affect how risk is measured and managed.”

Codes and Standards Development

Rodery talked about ASME PCC-1 as an example of the evolution in the development of a standard. “When originally published in 2000, ASME PCC-1 was predominantly considered to be a set of guidelines,” relayed Rodery. “As the original document was updated in 2010, 2013, and 2019, it contained a significant amount of information and included the why behind many of its recommendations. While the background information can be beneficial, providing such extensive content can obscure the requirements that are essential.”

So, in the main body of the document’s latest revision, we limited the content to essential requirements, and the back­ground information that was retained was moved into nonmandatory appendices.”

When developing standards, there are several aspects that must be taken into consideration. “First of all, it is impor­tant to identify the audience: who will be the primary user of that document and in what context will the document be used? Maintaining a consistent grasp of these details minimizes confusion as far as who does what. Within the context of ASME PCC-1, it was determined that the requirements would be best directed to the individual who would be writing the assembly procedure,” he explained.

Clay Rodery presents “What’s New in ASME PCC-1—2022” at the 2023 ASME Pressure Vessels & Piping Conference.

The writing process for the standard then focuses on determining which are the essential requirements for the standard, and then developing a format that will allow them to be usable to those in the field. In the case of PCC-1, the require­ments were split into selections that are typically plant-specific, and activities that are the individual steps that are expected to be performed by the joint assembler. The individual writing the procedure can then determine those selections and ac­tivities to incorporate for the specific ap­plication under consideration.

“It is not uncommon for the standards to be in a continuous state of development,” explained Rodery. “There is a standards development process that can take any­where from four to five years to approve and publish. ASME’s Post Construction Standards operate generally on a four-year publication frequency; however, other standards may be a little different. For example, the ASME’s Boiler and Pres­sure Vessel Code Committees meet on a quarterly basis and publish an updated edition every other year. This is different than say, with API, where it is typically on a four-year basis unless there is some sort of urgency,” Rodery continued. “The latest editions of ASME Post Construction Standards were published in September 2022, and the next editions are scheduled to be published in 2026.”

In terms of valves specifically, there are several standards from the API 600 se­ries that can be imposed. “Gate valves for example, are governed by API 600 and 602, which are geared towards new valve procurement,” he explained.

Changes in the API valve standards pre­dominantly affect the valve manufactur­ers, which then in turn affect the end us­ers and the individuals working onsite.

“When a new standard is implemented, it has a ripple impact. A facility does not typically replace all its valves immediately when a new change is implemented. Rather, the impact may start when replacement of valves or their key components, such as upgrading in packing materials, takes place.”

Looking Forward

Continually improving and following as­set codes and standards is of vital im­portance in the industry. Whether it is in the refining, chemical, or offshore seg­ments, the mitigation of risk is essential to ensuring the safety of both personnel and the environment.

“Now really is an ideal time for early and mid-career engineers to upgrade their skillsets. There is such a transition in the industry with so many retiring that it is a golden opportunity for those individu­als to take over,” explained Rodery when asked about the future of the industry. “It is wide open for those engineers who like solving problems to jump in and get involved and work in the standards area.”

When asked about the role of automation in the development of standards, Rodery provided a general observation. “I have no doubt that industry will continue to evolve to meet the challenges of our times, which in turn will require the con­tinuous improvement of industry stan­dards to lead the way,” Rodery continued. “It is a great time to get involved in the industry and be a part of those changes.”

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