Processing Magazine

Who knows all things flow?

May 24, 2012

“The flowmeter market doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is subject to the same economic pressures and influences as other process industry technologies,” Dr. Jesse Yoder, president of Flow Research Inc., says. “The recession of 2009 had a significant impact on the flowmeter market, as many end-user companies canceled projects or put them on hold. The rebound seen in 2010, however, continued through 2011.”

As a provider of market research on flow, pressure and temperature products, Flow Research is tracking the transition from “traditional-technology” flowmeters to “new-technology” markets. For example, the positive displacement flowmeter market size has been essentially flat for 10 years, while the turbine flowmeter market is managing to grow slowly based on continuing research and development. But it is Coriolis and ultrasonic flowmeter markets that are growing in the range of 6% to 8% a year.

One of the fastest growing markets for flowmeters is in burgeoning natural gas fields both in the U.S. and internationally, Yoder says. The worldwide market for gas flowmeters, Flow Research finds, totaled $1.3 billion in 2010, with a projected compound annual growth rate of more than 6% through 2015. Each global region has its own wrinkles when it comes to the market; supporting custody transfer of natural gas is a big issue; and multiphase flowmeters play an important role. This last is so because multiphase meters are able to measure the percentage of water, gas and oil that comes out of an oil well.

Turbine flowmeters remain popular, Yoder says, because they excel at measuring “clean, steady, medium- to high-speed flow of low-viscosity fluids.” They deliver a cost advantage over ultrasonic and Coriolis meters, especially in larger line sizes, “although suppliers report increasing difficulty competing with ultrasonic and magnetic flowmeters in large line sizes.”

Flow Research has just released a major study, “The World Market for Turbine Flowmeters.” It says turbine flowmeter revenues totaled $414 million in 2011 and are forecast to increase at an annual growth rate of 0.6% per year through 2016 to reach $427.5 million worldwide.