Propelled by strong growth in the oil and gas industry, which has begun to shed its conservative stance on field-device technology, the worldwide market for ultrasonic flowmeters is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.6 percent over the next five years, according to a study by ARC Advisory Group (www.arcweb.com). The market was $275 million in 2005 and is forecasted to be over $434 million in 2010.

ARC says most of the growth in the ultrasonic flowmeter market in recent years has been due to increased shipments to the oil and gas industry, which nearly doubled over previous levels. It appears the custody-transfer market for natural gas has taken shape thanks to adoption of the AGA9 custody-transfer standard, which specifies ultrasonic meters for custody-transfer applications. According to ARC’s study, unit shipments for custody transfer increased more than threefold between 2003 and 2005, and they account for 5 percent of ultrasonic meters sold for process applications. According to ARC, adoption will continue to increase as approvals by the API (American Petroleum Institute, www.api.org) and OIML (International Organization of Legal Metrology, www.oiml.org) for liquid hydrocarbon custody transfer gain traction in the industry.

ARC expects the largest growth rates for ultrasonic flowmeters in Asia and the Middle East regions. China and India, specifically, figure to make robust investments in basic infrastructure and new manufacturing plants. As energy-poor China seeks fuel for its rapid economic growth, ARC predicts it will ramp up its oil and gas infrastructure, building pipelines to connect it to Russia and other regional suppliers. The Middle East is expected to continue to be fertile ground for ultrasonic meter suppliers, due to its role in oil and gas production. The region is also expected to see investment in several large-scale power generation and desalinization plants. Growth in North America is expected to be more modest in comparison, but still healthy due to investment in oil and gas infrastructure and industrial automation.