Energy Sector Spurs Flow Meter Growth

March 20, 2013
ARC report points to pent up demand from the power, mining and oil & gas industries as the principal driver behind double digit flow meter sales growth in 2011 and 2012.

Over the past two years, the automotive sector has been responsible some of the biggest surges in purchases of drives, motors and controllers. See my blog post on Investing in the Manufacturing Resurgence for evidence of this from Lenze and MAPI. On the process side of the industry, ARC says it is companies in the energy sector— power, mining and oil & gas—that have been driving significant increases flow meters over the same period of time.

According to ARC senior analyst Allen Avery, in his Flowmeter Global Market Research Study, “sales of major flow meter technologies will continue to move at brisk rates, driven by increased business in the chemical and energy sectors.”

As with the strong drives and motors sales in North America driven by the resurgent U.S. automotive industry, Avery expects to see continued strong flow meter sales activity in North America if oil prices remain high, thereby justifying continued investments in oil sands projects in Canada.  The unfolding shale gas developments in the U.S. are also expected to present flow meter suppliers with significant opportunities. Despite continued growth in North American flow meter sales, Avery expects that Asia and the Middle East will continue to be the biggest purchasers of flow meters.

Though the chemical industry will play a significant role in the continued growth of the flow meter market, it is the energy sectors that will drive the strongest growth in the years ahead, says Avery. “Oil prices are on the rise again with the economic recovery, increased demand, and political and social unrest in the Arab world,” he says. “This should continue to drive demand for flow meters as higher prices favor increased exploration, production and processing of fossil fuels.  Also, the need to bring refined fuels to growing markets in Asia will drive construction of pipelines and fuel terminals, increasing demand for custody-transfer capable flow measurement devices. 

Avery also expects the mining industry to see steady growth if commodity prices hold.

Credit for the recent boost in flow meter sales also goes to the introduction and adoption of intelligent field devices such as ultrasonic and coriolis flow meters. Avery says these intelligent flow meters have “helped owner/operators to improve the accuracy of their flow measurements, with repeatability and reliability previously unavailable with older mechanical meters or crude methods such as orifice plates or PD (positive displacement) meters.  Device intelligence has helped flow meters to evolve beyond their basic purpose to be indispensable tools for process and business improvement.”

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