This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Inc. 12621 Featherwood Drive Houston, Texas 77034 USA Introduction Liquid Meter Proving is the physical testing of the performance of a meter, in a liquid service, that is measuring the flow or volume throughput. The meter "proof" or test, is performed by placing a meter in series with a meter prover, which has a known "base" volume at standard conditions, in such a way that during any given test run, all the product measured by the meter is also measured by the prover, and equally important, only the product measured by the meter is measured by the prover. Then the meter indication is compared to the known prover volume. Meters can provide more precise measurement of the liquids handled, if they are proved regularly and in actual operating conditions. A meter, which has been tested on a given product, with a given density and viscosity, at a given flow rate, temperature and pressure will need to be retested when any one of the above conditions change significantly. The density of liquids is affected by temperature and pressure deviations from base conditions (60F and 0 psig are the US Customary Units). This fact is apart from the points above. However, since the temperature and pressure in the meter are not necessarily equal to the temperature and pressure in the prover, the volume differences occurring must be adjusted for, in the results obtained. The magnitude of these volume changes is such that accurate thermometers with increments of 0.2 degrees F and accurate pressure indicators with increments no greater than 1% of scale, should be used on crude oil and refined products. Adjustable mercury thermometers, pressure gauges, digital thermometers and digital pressure indicators, should all be routinely checked to ensure the integrity of the measurement system. Traceability to an appropriate national agency (e.g., NIST in the USA) must be maintained for all temperature, pressure and volumetric measurements. API MPMS Chapter 12.2 Part 3 provides an excellent guide to the calculation of meter factors. Types of Meters There are a number of types of flow meters that are used in liquid service depending upon the application and operator preference. These meters include among others: displacement, conventional turbine, helical turbine, Coriolis-Effect types and ultrasonic types of meters. All of these meters have demonstrated their ability to measure liquids effectively if they are properly installed and properly operated in a system that has been properly designed. When any of these meters are used special care must be given to both design and installation. In general terms, the proving process is essentially the same regardless of the type of meter being proved. For example, all meters should be proved at a uniform flow rate condition during any given meter factor determination. However care must be taken to understand the differences so that good results are achieved. For example, conventional turbine meters in theory at least have the most uniform pulse train of discrete pulses. This assumes that the blades are equidistant and of uniform orientation. For this reason they lend themselves especially well to pulse interpolation when needed to achieve a 1 part in 10,000 resolution of the pulses per proving pass (in a bidirectional prover) or run (in a unidirectional prover) and the provers can be quite small if equipped with high precision detectors. Displacement meters sometimes have too much gear play to effectively use pulse interpolation although special designs of displacement meters taking pulses from a location closer to the primary element of the meter have proved to work just fine. Helical turbines can effectively make use of pulse interpolation but the prover might need to be somewhat larger because there are fewer discrete pulses per revolution than in a conventional turbine. Ultrasonic and Coriolis type meters have so called “manufactured” pulses which may require that the proving runs be somewhat longer because of an uneven output. In some cases this might mean using a displacement prover to prove a turbine meter for the purpose of making master meter runs that are larger than the displacement volume of the prover being used to prove the master meter. Trouble shooting each type of meter in the face of unsatisfactory proving results requires knowledge of the type of meter itself in addition to the general considerations of leaking valves and meter prover performance.
This can be done by manually gating the prover totalizer "on" while simultaneously reading the custody transfer totalizer. This means that the meter indication used in custody transfer (be it electronic totalizer or mechanical register head) is displayed by equipment separate from the prover counter/pulser system. to fully test the system before proving a given meter.Conventional Pipe Provers When proving a meter with a pipe prover. used in the custody transfer. When the valve is closed the inner cavity space is increased allowing the trapped fluid to expand and the pressure to drop. could result in a sizeable error in the meter factor determined by the proving. The above internal test is not sufficient however. c) Close the double block and bleed valve. Some double block valves are checked by means of a pressure gauge. 3) Check all valves (the use of double block and bleed valves are required in measurement stations) to be sure that none of the flow through the meter being proved is in any way bypassing the prover and that none of the flow through the prover is in any way bypassing the meter being proved. thereby proving the integrity of the double block and bleed valve. or to check for seal directly at the valve site. In another design the cavity space might be reduced which would raise the pressure. To check a double block and bleed valve designed for the pressure gauge method: a) Read the cavity pressure when valve is partially open. In the case of PD meters.01 percent. The counter is gated "on" and "off" by the displacer detectors. This check should be made in terms of pulses read by the prover totalizer. a pulse counter is used to gather the pulses generated at the meter (displacement or “PD” meters have high resolution pulsers attached while turbine meters generate pulses directly). b) Read pressure gauge at the cavity again when valve is closed. So if you have a photopulser which by design generates 1000 pulses per revolution. gate the prover totalizer “off” in the same manner. 2) Direct the flow of the meter being proved into (through) the prover and open vents at all high points to purge the air or gas while filling. Proving Procedures 1) Record the delivery flow rate and pressure at the meter. it is important to ascertain what a "seal" light means. d) In the case of automated and/or remote control operations. The test must be of long enough duration to smooth out any gating error to within 0. there is often an internal prover gate switch in the photopulser which gates the prover totalizer "on" and "off" each revolution. For this reason it is important to check the integrity of the prover and meter totalizer system each time a meter is proved. b) Open bleeder to discharge product in order to verify that the bleeder is not plugged. It might be some other type of indirect seal indication which the operator must understand fully in order to know whether to believe the indication. both of which must affect a seal before the displacer actuates the first detector encountered in a pass. By following the above procedure you are assured that the prover totalizer system being used to prove the meter is in agreement with the meter totalizer system. After several minutes have passed. c) There should be a significant differential pressure. per unit volume indicated by the custody transfer totalizer. Often it is simply a valve position indicator. To check a double block and bleed valve in crude oil or refined products service: a) Partially open the double block valve. d) Open the bleeder again at which time the bleeder flow should cease. By internally gating the counter "on" and "off" the prover counter will accumulate successive sums by 1000 pulse increments. by separate test. unless a pulse check had been made. you can easily test the electronics with the "test" switch. what the ratio is of revolutions of the pulser. per unit volume of the custody transfer totalizer. One gear erroneously changed or damaged in the register head of a PD meter. e) This discussion includes 4-way valves and sphere interchanges. Tests of less time duration can successfully be made by means of a switch on the register head itself which would automatically gate the prover counter "on" and "off" at whole unit volume increments. or bad information on hand regarding the ratio of pulses per unit volume on a custody transfer turbine meter totalizer. The essential point is that it is not enough to know that the prover electronic system is working properly. It is essential that you know. 572 . It is highly recommended that this method be automated.
In the case of a 4-way valve. To complete the round trip. are a consecutive series of meter factors that lie within a range of from 0. Most are calibrated "to deliver" so that they can be used in successive tests while still wet. it is drained in a prescribed manner. the methodology is kept the same from proving to proving at a given location. 573 ." In the case of a prover tank without a fixed zero point. the entire system must reach a reasonably stable temperature. Then zero the prover totalizer. When Detector 2 is actuated. [max-min]/[min] x 100). Before beginning a test run. so the counter can then be reset for the next measured run from Detector 1 to 2. The counter would now be reset for the next round trip. It is important to note that repeatability itself does not demonstrate the absence of any bias or malfunction in the measurement system. even though the displacer continues its travel past Detector 1. the pass above describes only a half trip. This is known as the average data method. 8) Launch the displacer by actuating the 4-way valve (in a bidirectional prover) or the sphere interchange unit (in a unidirectional pipe prover). the counter will start counting pulses. a minimum of three (3). This will constitute one (1) complete run in the case of a unidirectional prover. 11) To establish repeatability. When the tank is drained. the average prover temperature and pressure. the counter will stop counting even though the displacer continues its travel past the detector. The meter and prover must be gas/air free and liquid full before beginning the actual proving. a reading can be taken instead. However. The average of the consecutive series of intermediate meter factors is used to determine the Meter Factor. the liquid level must first be adjusted to "zero. the "seal" should be verified in both positions. When it reaches the second detector. the counter will start.. These tolerances. They all have a scale in the upper neck portion for reading the incremental amounts more or less than the nominal base volume. However.4) Adjust the flow rate of the meter being proved to its actual operating flow rate. meter totalizer system in terms of pulses (registered by proving totalizer) per unit volume (registered by the custody transfer volume unit totalizer). Also. and the average meter temperature and pressure. 9) The sphere interchange should be checked for "seal" when the sphere is launched. 7) Check integrity of the prover totalizer vs. This is known as the average meter factor method. and when Detector 1 is actuated.05% (e. The display on the totalizer represents the accumulation of the pulses for the two (2) half trips. reverse the 4-way valve so that now the displacer will travel in the opposite direction. In that case the final Meter Factor may be calculated based upon the average pulses per round trip travel of the displacer. 6) Obtain the observed API gravity or relative density (and the corresponding observed temperature) of the liquid product being metered. For this reason it is required to fill them up one time for a "wet down" prior to an actual meter proving test run. At least two (2) consecutive tests within a range of 0. Calculations are essentially the same as for pipe provers and the average meter factor method is the method of choice.g. and with care. but usually five (5) consecutive round trips are made that agree within required tolerances. Volumetric Prover Tank Method There are a number of types of volumetric prover tanks. agreed upon by the parties involved. in the case of a bidirectional pipe prover.05% are required when using a volumetric tank prover." If the lower neck has an incremental scale. and the temperature and pressure conditions are reasonably stable during the proving operations. the results properly calculated. it is important that the liquid level in the bottom be at "zero. improper pulse generating and totalizing equipment and faulty or improperly adjusted detectors can sometimes provide "repeatability" (but not accuracy).02% to 0. the counter will stop. Use the appropriate table to determine the corrected gravity at base conditions (60 degrees F). 10) Record the average temperature and average pressure for both the meter and the prover during each round trip. When the displacer actuates the first detector. 12) The repeatability described above most properly describes the intermediate meter factors obtained after all temperatures and pressure considerations have been calculated for on each proving run. if the parties agree. 5) Make a few trial runs and purge/vent the gas/air at all high points each time the displacer reaches the end of its travel on a pass. Even leaking valves. the raw counts may be used as the test of repeatability.
Master Meter Methods Variations of master meter proving include the "indirect pipe prover" method and the "common master meter" method. and are thus one step removed from the prover. Nonetheless. the common master meter method is sometimes used in low volume applications. Both utilize a test meter to prove another meter. When a small volume prover of this type is calibrated. a meter is proved at one given location by a volumetric tank or pipe prover. the pulse check becomes less critical (assuming the custody transfer indicator is also the indicator used for the meter proving). Furthermore. They can also be beneficial in the proving of line meters that have cyclic type temperature compensators. If the actual waterdraw calibrated volumes do not exhibit the same bias as would be predicted by the displacement of the shaft on one end. Any errors in gear ratios on the master meter would be cancelled out in the calculations of the line meter factor. viscosity. density. temperature. the electronic system check should always be made to verify the integrity of the pulse train. In the "common master meter" method. there are substantial differences in the levels of accuracy that can be expected.6 of the API Manual of Petroleum Measurement Standards. Another example might be a meter that generates “manufactured” pulses in a somewhat uneven train. at least one of the volumes is in doubt. something might happen to the meter while being transported. However. with relatively small prover volumes. the desired resolution can be obtained through the use of pulse interpolation.000 pulses on any given pass of the displacer in a mechanical displacement type prover. the "indirect displacement prover" method can be very effective in the proving of meters that do not have a means of generating pulses. Many small volume provers have a shaft on one end that is attached to the displacer. 574 . Thus.) to those at the line meter site. Therefore. a small volume prover is simply a prover which is being used to prove a meter that does not generate enough pulses to totalize at least 10. line meter) to prove the line meter. Then it is transported to another site to be used as a standard against a line meter. This method can be extremely accurate and if properly executed can achieve results comparable to direct meter proving with a displacement prover under certain conditions. but double chronometry is the only one discussed in Chapter 4. Finally. extra care must be taken to ensure and verify the integrity of the meter proving results. it is essential that the correct choice of calibrated volumes be used in the calculations of the meter factor. since longer runs can be made (master meter vs. at the same operating conditions. because a portion of the shaft enters and leaves the prover chamber from the outside.e. The master meter is first proved against the pipe prover and then immediately used as the standard against the line meter. An example of this situation would be the proving of a meter that drives a cyclic type calibrator with a gear ratio of one (1) revolution per five (5) gallons. with a pipe prover that has a calibrated volume of less than five (5) barrels but is not an even multiple of five (5) gallons. a master meter is installed in series with both a displacement prover and the line meter being proved.Small Volume Provers and Displacement Provers with Captive Displacers By definition. In the "indirect displacement prover" method. pressure. Therefore. it must be recognized that when proving a meter using the indirect pipe prover method. the routine field checks are essentially no more difficult than the pulse check described earlier. However. There are several techniques. it is recommended that it be waterdraw calibrated both upstream and downstream. flow rate. the system should be inspected and the calibration should be performed again to restore confidence. However. However. etc. the effective volume when proving a meter downstream is different than the calibrated volume when proving a meter upstream. When pulse interpolation is used. The weakness of this method lies in the difficulty in duplicating the conditions at the prover site (i. In the case of any meter sensitive to the flow profile even the installation into the test loop and later re-installation into the field location can be a great source of error. Although the direct proving with a displacement prover would normally be preferred.
whether the primary purpose is process control. Reference Material • • • • • API Manual of Petroleum Measurement Standards API Manual of Petroleum Measurement Standards API Manual of Petroleum Measurement Standards API Manual of Petroleum Measurement Standards API Manual of Petroleum Measurement Standards Chapter 1 Vocabulary Chapter 4 Meter Provers Chapter 5 Meters Chapter 11 Petroleum Measurement Tables Chapter 12 Calculations Paper Presented in May 2007 SPEAKER: HAROLD GRAY of ALYESKA PIPELINE SERVICE COMPANY International School of Hydrocarbon Measurement (ISHM) Oklahoma City. Ultimately. in-house inventory. Good measurement is vital. The purpose of the test is to assure accuracy in the measurement of liquids being handled and transported in some way. or custody transfer. it is important in dollars and cents. scheduling a pipeline. Acknowledgement The author wishes to thank Harold Gray for his good insight through the years and who as the speaker will bring a special dimension to the presentation of this paper and class session. Oklahoma USA 575 . and are one important link in the overall program of wisely managing your company's resources. It costs money to make "off spec" product (or to produce good product inefficiently).Conclusion Liquid meter proving is the physical testing of the performance of a meter in a liquid service that is measuring the flow or volume throughput. Good liquid meter proving techniques are therefore vital.