Pressure vessels are subject to deterioration processes, such as corrosion and fatigue. If left unchecked these deterioration processes can lead to failure; therefore, inspections and repairs are performed to mitigate this risk. Oil and gas facilities often have regular scheduled shutdown periods during which many components, including the pressure vessels, are disassembled, inspected, and repaired or replaced if necessary.
The objective of this paper is to perform a decision analysis to determine the best course of action for an operator to follow after a pressure vessel is inspected during a shutdown period. If the pressure vessel is inspected and an unexpectedly deep corrosion defect is detected an operator has two options: schedule a repair for the next shutdown period, or perform an immediate unscheduled repair. A scheduled repair is the preferred option as it gives the decision maker lead time to accommodate the added labour and budgetary requirements. This preference is accounted for by a higher cost of immediate unscheduled repairs relative to the cost of a scheduled repair at the next shutdown. Depending on the severity of deterioration either option could present the optimal course of action. In this framework the decision that leads to the minimum expected cost is selected. A stochastic gamma process was used to model the future deterioration growth using the historical inspection data, considering the measurement error and uncertain initial wall thickness, to determine the probability of pressure vessel failure. The decision analysis framework can be used to aid decision makers in deciding when a repair or replacement action should be performed. This method can be used in real time decision making to inform the decision maker immediately post inspection. A numerical example of a corroding pressure vessel illustrates the method.