What is a Natural Gas Flow Meter?

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  • Written By: R. Kimball
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2019
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A natural gas flow meter measures the amount of natural gas passing through a given point at any point in time or over a period of time. Many different types of meters are used to measure gas flow. The best natural gas flow meter for a specific measurement location depends upon the quantity of gas flowing through the location as well as the availability of electricity, radio, or Internet access and other utilities at the location.

Flow meters are used as natural gas leaves one company’s control and passes to another company’s control. Their purpose is to accurately account for the quantity of natural gas that changed control in a given transaction. When natural gas moves from a production platform onto a natural gas pipeline for transportation to a utility company at the other end of the pipeline, it is measured at each of these locations.


An appropriate type of natural gas flow meter is determined based upon the intended application. Mechanical flow meters are used when the meter needs to function on a daily basis, but a company does not need to know how much is flowing on a daily basis. These types of meters are usually used in locations where the amount of gas flowing is constant and does not change much from day to day. A mechanical natural gas flow meter may create paper charts that are physically acquired and read by a special machine in order to know the actual gas flow for a given period of time.

Thermal mass flow meters are used in locations where natural gas flow can change dramatically on a daily basis. If a specific production platform has the ability to move natural gas among a variety of pipelines and the amount changes on a daily basis, this type of meter is necessary to monitor how much gas is moving at any given time into each pipeline. This type of natural gas flow meter is used because it can send information to control facilities in a different location via radio or Internet frequency.

These thermal mass flow meters are available at different price points with a variety of capabilities. Some end use companies use these tools in order to see how much gas a given portion of their plant is using and monitor the efficiency of their processes. Other companies use these meters to measure the amount of natural gas as a check against what the pipeline or utility company is billing the company for natural gas.


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