In Part VII of our natural gas flow meter types series, I discuss the orifice plate, a differential pressure meter commonly used to measure natural gas flow when high accuracy is not required.

Please note that Sage Metering does not manufacture orifice meters. We are a leading manufacturer of thermal mass flow meters and provide this information for our reader’s needs. If you would like to learn more about the thermal mass flow meter, take a look around our website and let us know how we can help you.

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Orifice Plate Natural Gas Flow Meter Types

Differential Pressure Natural Gas Flow Meter

Differential pressure (DP) flowmeters determine flow by measuring pressure drop over an obstacle inserted in the flow pathway. These flow devices are orifice plates, averaging pitot tubes, venturi tubes, and flow nozzles.

Natural Gas Flow Meter Types | Orifice Plate Differential Pressure
The orifice plate is a natural gas flow meter type that determines flow by measuring pressure drop over an obstacle inserted in the flow pathway.

Orifice Plates

The orifice plate (orifice meter) is a differential pressure meter frequently used in natural gas measurement. It measures volumetric flow, though it can also calculate mass flow depending on the device’s calculation. It uses the same principle as a Venturi-style meter (Bernoulli’s principle), suggesting a relationship between the velocity and pressure of the fluid. That relationship is – as the velocity increases, the pressure decreases. The orifice meter determines the flow through the difference in pressure between the upstream and the downstream side of a partly impeded pipe.


  1. Orifice plates have a long history of documented use and have broad industry acceptance.
  2. They are inexpensive and straightforward.
  3. They have no moving parts and are mechanically stable.
  4. Dry calibration is acceptable.
  5. There are no limits on temperature, pressure, or size.


On the downside:

  1. Orifice meters have low accuracy in low flow conditions.
  2. They have low turndown/rangeability and a high-pressure loss, which can impact operating costs.
  3. Orifice plates are flow-profile sensitive and require a long meter tube or flow conditioner.
  4. They are not self-cleaning and can be damaged or clogged by high flow rates.
  5. To calculate mass flow temperature and pressure correction is required.

Orifice Plate Manufacturers

There are many differential pressure orifice plate manufacturers, too many to list in this post.

If you are interested in learning more about other natural gas flow meter styles, read more.

Who are we?

We are Sage Metering. We manufacture thermal mass flow meters, which measure and monitor gas mass flow. If you are interested in a different meter style, may I suggest learning more about the advantages of thermal mass flow measurement? Otherwise, here are other links to articles sharing the benefits and limitations of each technology:

2 thoughts on “Orifice Plate Reviewed | Natural Gas Flow Meter Types

  1. Edward Lewis says:

    I have been researching the Dale-hoodville consolided field (reifinery) for about 3 months. Mostly
    because I just enjoy history , and mostly (in the begining ) for my own interest in how refineries
    work. I found finding information on the refinery in Dale Ill. was extreamly difficult .I did find most
    of the information I was looking for , but I haven’t been able to find a picture of the gas meter tied
    to each well site . 250-300 well sites, It was a cast iron case with with a paper disk to obtain the
    information , with a red and black hand non-elect. with a wind up good for 1 week it was mounted
    on a loop 45 out of ground 10′ across and 45 back down, with two flanges in center w/orifice in center
    I have a picture of this, w/a gate valve on each end for servicing , without this meter the refinery would
    have never existed. (no elect. in the oil fields in 1940) . Could you please give me a clue as to how I
    could come up with a picture of this meter , used form 1942 to 1965. when the refinery closed down.
    Texas oil co. installed it (name changed to Texico inc. in 1959.

  2. Edward Lewis says:

    I have 16 8×10 pictures of the refinery, one from an airplane showing most of the refinery. Extremely
    good pictures, and one of the loop the meter is mounted on. when I started I thought pictures would
    be the most difficult part to find, some how someone forgot to remove the loop I have a picture of. I
    was suprised to see the chemicals that could be extracted from natural gas, including 2-3 types of
    butain plus several more including gasoline . This also prevented all of this gas from being burnt off.
    I was suprised to find so few natural gas refineries in the US . from 1900 to present.

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