Flow Research Study Finds a $424 Million Worldwide Positive Displacement Flowmeter Market

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The surge in oil and gas exploration and the resulting boost in the distribution of refined petroleum fuels is benefiting the positive displacement flowmeter market. Their large installed base also insures a long life for positive displacement meters.

The prospect of accelerating growth in the energy market will continue to benefit positive displacement flowmeters, especially on the downstream distribution end of the energy chain.

The positive displacement flowmeter market is projected to remain above $400 million worldwide through 2016, according to a recent Flow Research study. Positive displacement flowmeter revenues totaled $424.0 million worldwide in 2011 and are forecast to decline slightly to $404.0 in 2016. This is one finding in a recent Flow Research study, The World Market for Positive Displacement Flowmeters, 2nd Edition.

Positive displacement (PD) meters have long been favored for gas applications. Many of the PD meters used for gas utility measurements are diaphragm meters. However, these are being replaced by rotary meters for some applications, since rotary meters are smaller and lighter. Rotary meters are also used for non-utility gas flow measurement in industrial environments. There is currently a surge in the use of natural gas since it is a cleaner alternative to oil and it is widely viewed as a long-term bridge to renewable energy. Positive displacement meters, especially rotary meters, can be expected to benefit from this trend.

Positive displacement flowmeters are also widely used for downstream distribution of refined petroleum liquids. With the price of oil above $100 per barrel, the value of petroleum measurement has escalated. The high prices put a premium on accuracy and reliability in measurement, and positive displacement flowmeters rank high on both counts. While they do face competition from Coriolis flowmeters for downstream petroleum applications, especially for custody transfer, the high price of Coriolis meters is causing many customers to stay with positive displacement meters. Oval gear meters are especially popular for these applications.

Suppliers are also taking steps to improve the technology. Some relatively new developments focus on improved methods to increase the precision with which components are manufactured. For example, improved coordinate measuring machines make it possible to create more perfectly round pistons and other components. And as is the case with turbine flowmeters, improved bearing technology is making ball bearings more reliable and less prone to failure.

One major growth factor for positive displacement flowmeters is their large installed base. Because they were introduced more than 100 years before new-technology meters, in the 1840s, positive displacement flowmeters have had much more time to penetrate the markets in Europe, North America, and Asia. Installed base is a relevant growth factor because often when ordering flowmeters, especially for replacement purposes, users often choose to stay with the same technology. The investment in a flowmeter technology includes the time and money invested in training people how to install and use the meter, not just the purchase price. The large installed base of positive displacement flowmeters worldwide will continue to be a source of orders for new and replacement meters in the future.

According to Dr. Jesse Yoder, president of Flow Research, growth in the energy markets will continue to propel positive displacement meters:

“The surge in oil and gas exploration has been a boon for a number of flowmeters, including ultrasonic and turbine. Positive displacement meters have benefited more from the downstream end of the business. Oval gear meters are incorporated into skids for use in downstream custody transfer of petroleum liquids. Positive displacements meters for oil applications are widely used in trucking terminals for loading and offloading hydrocarbons to and from trucks, and for aviation applications. Rotary meters are widely used for gas distribution applications. The prospect of accelerating growth in the energy markets will continue to benefit positive displacement meters.”

The attached figure shows total shipments of positive displacement flowmeters worldwide in millions of dollars from 2011 to 2016. For more information on the study and the positive displacement flowmeter market, go to http://www.flowPD.com.

Flow Research, Inc.
Flow Research provides research on flowmeters and other process control instrumentation. Recent market studies include a series of six studies on oil flow measurement as well as individual studies on positive displacement and magnetic flowmeters and pressure transmitters. Flow Research also publishes quarterly reports on the flowmeter and energy markets as part of the Worldflow Monitoring Service (http://www.worldflow.com).

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