January 2017, Vol. 244, No. 1


Well-Devised Inspection Plans Can Save Millions

Shobhendu Prabhakar, Project Quality Manager, Technip USA Inc., Houston, TX

Inspection and test plans, commonly known as ITPs in the oil and gas industry, are among the most critical documents in ensuring a successful inspection outcome.

ITPs guarantee equipment is inspected effectively and meets applicable codes and specifications requirements. A well-thought-out, easy-to-understand and effectively implemented ITP usually saves companies millions of dollars.

Elements of a successful ITP include:

Project phases – The document must clearly cover inspection activities during different phases on the project – for example, before manufacturing, during manufacturing, pre-loadout, loadout and installation phases. If phases are not separated, users often have difficulty following the ITP.

Activity title – This section provides a clear, concise title of the activity to be carried out. This would include “pre-inspection meeting,” “welder qualification” and “inspection release” categories.

Activity description – Details on the activity to be inspected in ITPs is the key. A good description of an activity, for example, would be “hold a pre-fabrication meeting among client, contractor and supplier project management and fabrication teams to go over project requirements and address clarifications regarding project specifications and technical requirements.” A mediocre example would be “hold pre-inspection meeting.” An activity description with specific details not only encourages client confidence in the ITP but also and, more importantly, it makes the ITPs useful to users.

Reference documents – These include applicable project specifications, industry codes or standards and project procedures that need to be included in a section. Merely stating the reference document as API 1104, for example, will likely leave the user wondering. Citing a specific section within the project specification or industry standard (e.g. API 1104, Section 6) will provide more clarity.

Acceptance criteria – this is among the most important elements of an ITP. If the acceptance criterion is not clearly specified, it allows for subjectivity and preferences come into play that might cause schedule delays. Referencing project-specific acceptance criteria also leaves out the possibility criteria from past similar projects will be carried out. (Always remember: no two projects are exactly the same).

Verify documents – This provides assurance to the client, contractor and suppliers that the inspection activities were carried out and documented. Verifying documents is critical evidence in demonstrating a certain activity was carried out.

Responsible person – Often ITPs do not list the responsible person for a section. The reasons for doing so are obvious and include accountability to document execution of a particular activity and the ability to effectively allocate resources.

Inspection points – Companies (client, contractor and supplier) need to pay close attention to this section since the inspection points they specify drive inspection budgets. Before making a choice, companies need to ask a few basic but critical questions:

  • Non-negotiables or negotiables? Witnessing a factory-acceptance test is non-negotiable, whereas witnessing an intermediate test with lower risk might be negotiable.
  • What are the technical and safety risks?
  • What are the efforts vs. returns based on criticality of the equipment to be inspected?


A well-thought-out, clearly defined ITP benefits all parties (client, contractor and suppliers) and increases the likelihood of success for the following reasons:

  • It allows for control over the inspection budget by the project management team.
  • The project management team gains an understanding of activities to be inspected by client, contractor and suppliers. This avoids confusion or conflicts related to inspection points by these parties.
  • The process leads to a well-defined approach to inspection activities.
  • A well-devised ITP proves documented verification and assurance of fabrication and testing activities.
  • Cost savings and minimum schedule impact occur due to the clearly defined inspection activities.

Because of the benefits an ITP can deliver, it may save millions of dollars to the oil and gas industry. Such a document should be developed and reviewed thoughtfully, clearly and wisely.

The next time you are tasked to devise or review an ITP, it is prudent to check the ITP for the elements mentioned in this article, and to ensure you are doing your part to add value to the process.

Disclaimer: This article does not represent any Technip USA Inc. position, and it is in no way related to Technip USA Inc.

Author: Shobhendu Prabhakar works as a project quality manager with Technip USA Inc. He is a certified ISO 9001 lead auditor with over 13 years of professional experience in quality assurance and quality control. Prabhakar holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in mechanical design engineering.

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