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Worldwide flowmeter market rebounding after pandemic downturn

Published by , Editorial Assistant
World Pipelines,

A new study from Flow Research, Volume X: The World Market for Flowmeters, 8th Edition, finds that the worldwide flowmeter market is rebounding from a slump that occurred during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. The flowmeter market is now strong and trending upward as the economy regains its footing and rising oil and gas prices drive exploration and production. Historically, the worldwide flowmeter market size has followed the downward and now sharply upward fluctuations in oil prices.

Worldwide flowmeter market rebounding after pandemic downturn

The comprehensive new Flow Research study found that the market totalled US$7.03 billion in 2019 and US$6.6 billion in 2020, with revenues forecast to reach a projected US$6.9 billion in 2021 and US$8.2 billion by 2024. Coriolis and magnetic flowmeters are the revenue leaders in the flowmeter market, with Coriolis meters projected to take over the lead more strongly by 2024, due largely to growing demand in the oil and gas industry for more accurate custody transfer. Coriolis flowmeters are the most accurate meters on the market today.

Coriolis, magnetic, and ultrasonic flowmeters drive the total flowmeter market, and the decreased demand and supply of oil and gas during the pandemic significantly affected the Coriolis and ultrasonic markets. Going forward, however, the tightness in supply for both oil and natural gas could cause faster than projected growth in these flowmeter markets.

Magnetic flowmeters are widely used in the water and wastewater industry and are growing in demand as water shortages and climate change intensify the need to monitor water supplies and usage more closely. In fact, thanks to new industry group standards that include using magmeters for water utility measurement, magmeters are now displacing positive displacement and turbine meters in some commercial and industrial applications. Magnetic flowmeters, which do not measure hydrocarbons, are used in the oil and gas industry and were also affected by the slump. Magmeters are used for fracking applications, including measuring water injected into oil and gas wells and water flowing from them for capture, disposal, or recycling.

The ultrasonic flowmeter market is projected to grow the fastest over the next three years. Ultrasonic flowmeters feature high accuracy, high reliability, high turndown ratios, long service life, low maintenance, relatively low cost, diagnostics, no moving parts, and redundancy. Both Coriolis and ultrasonic flowmeters have received industry association approvals for custody transfer of both gas and liquids, but, unlike Coriolis meters, ultrasonic flowmeters perform very well in the large line sizes often used in oil and gas pipelines.

In general, user requirements for increased accuracy, reliability, and managed network capabilities are causing end users to switch to new-technology meters in some cases. However, conventional meters are still a major force in the flowmeter market. Conventional meters, especially differential pressure, positive displacement, and turbine meters, have a large installed base and were among the first types of flowmeters to receive approvals from industry associations for custody transfer applications. While many new-technology flowmeters have also received these approvals, the changeover to these new-technology flowmeters is taking time. Some end users prefer to stay with an existing known technology unless it is no longer doing its job. New-technology flowmeters – meters first introduced after 1950 – include Coriolis, magnetic, ultrasonic, vortex, and thermal flowmeters. Conventional flowmeters include differential pressure (DP), positive displacement, turbine, open channel, and variable area flowmeters.

In addition to growth factors related to the oil and gas industry, product improvements in both new and conventional flowmeters are contributing to the upward trend in the worldwide market. Some product improvements include modern materials for meter parts or liners, additional line sizes, increased accuracy, and broader flow ranges. Suppliers are also making battery-powered units, smaller meter bodies for tight spaces, multivariable meters, and self-monitoring or self-calibrating meters.

Regulatory reporting requirements and the need for continuous measurement without interruption are increasing the value of redundancy in measurement. Vortex and turbine suppliers have brought out flowmeters with two sensors, and dual flowmeters calibrated together. New DP flowmeters offer fully integrated orifice plates with multiple transmitters. Dual turbine rotor designs offer greater turndown flow range along with enhanced accuracy. Redundancy is rapidly taking its place along with accuracy and reliability as a key feature to look for when selecting a flowmeter.

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