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T H E A P R I L 2 0 0 0 R E V I S I O N TO AGA-3/API 14.

3 O N O R I F I C E M E T E R T U B E S
Class # 7020
Ray Kendrick
Daniel Measurement & Control
9720 Katy Rd.
Houston, Texas 77055

The April 2000 revision to the API 14.3 part 2


Standard includes the results of considerable test
work over the past few years. Numerous changes are
noted, some of which will have major effects on users
of orifice measurement. The most significant impact
will be in the upstream length and flow conditioner
areas. This paper will discuss most of the changes
and go into some detail on the more important ones.
Items not mentioned essentially remain as stated in
the previous issue of the Standard.

METER TUBE SURFACE


The internal surface of the meter tube may now
contain pits, though classified as undesirable, if they
do not infringe on the surface finish or diameter
requirements. Maximum surface roughness is now
determined by both pipe size and beta ratio and also
varies within the length of the upstream section.
Within the first 17 diameters upstream, 12" and
smaller sizes (Fig. 1) with 0.6 and higher betas' have
a 250 microinch limit. For betas' below 0.6, 300
microinches is allowed. Tubes larger than 12" (Fig.2)
with 0.6 or larger betas have a 500 microinch limit,
while betas of 0.6 or less can have up to 600
microinch surfaces within the 17 diameter upstream
zone. Beyond 17D upstream, roughness can be up to
600 microinches in all cases. Minimum roughness
anywhere within the tube is 34 microinches.

17D

1~
1

4.SD

6OO rnicroinch max i To .6 Beta= 300 m ere nch max


i ,6 Beta & up = 250 microinch m a x

34 microinch mirl
2"-12" METER TUBE INTERNALROUGHNESS

Figure 2
Upstream Length as Required

17D
600 microlnch max i To .6 Beta = 600 microinch max

.6 Beta & up = 500 mlerolnch max

Meter tube straight length requirement selection has


moved away from graphs with identifying drawings.
Now, individual tables for 3 different classifications of
meter tube designs are shown; bare meter tubes (no
vanes or conditioners), short tubes with tube bundles
and long tubes with tube bundles. No drawings
depicting the stated configurations are shown. Some
of the traditional selection categories have changed
and some are missing. Close-coupled elbows, 2 ells
with 10D space between them and concentric reducer
information are omitted. A new category for "single
Tee" has been added, but it is not to be used for
header installations. Another heading called "high
swirl combined with 90 Tee" has no further
explanation. The most significant change is the new
length requirement for bare tubes. These lengths are
up to 4 times longer than previously stated. The old
"default standard" meter tube that can be used in any
installation now requires 145 diameters upstream
without tube bundle compared to the 44D previously
shown

INTERNAL DIAMETER
Internal diameter tolerances remain as in the previous
edition and apply to the full length of the meter tube.

TUBE BUNDLES (Straightening vanes)

Figure 1
Upstream Length as Required

METER TUBE LENGTH

4.5D

II

34 microinch min
14" & LARGER METER TUBE INTERNALROUGHNESS

646

There are also new restrictions placed on the tube


bundle design itself. All bundles must be the classic,
concentric design with 19 same diameter tubes
(Fig.3). The "hex" pattern bundle (Fig.3) can no
longer be used. Outer bands (Fig.3), commonly used
to close gaps where tubing sizes would not permit an
acceptable clearance between the bundle and pipe
wall are no longer allowed. The clearance between
the tube bundle and pipe wall has been revised,
necessitating the redesign of units in most
sizes/schedules. The 7 tube bundle (Fig.3),
traditionally used for 2" sizes, can no longer be used.
Based on these new restrictions, it appears that due
to tubing size availability, some size/schedule
combinations will no longer be available. In most
cases where tube bundles are used, a significant
increase in the overall upstream meter tube length
will be required. Vane positioning with respect to the
orifice plate has also changed. The standard location
now will be 13 D from the vane outlet to the orifice
plate face.

Figure 3

HEX PATTERN

Fig. 4

CONCENTRIC
WITH END BANDS

METER TUBES WITH TUBE BUNDLES


29D AND GREATER UPSTREAM

7 TUBE BUNDLE

CATEGORY

DISALLOWED

DISALLOWED
DISALLOWED

WAS

1 ELL

16.5D

2 ELLS
out of plane

15D

TEE

N/A

VALVE 50%
OPEN +
High swirl
combined with
single 90 Tee
Any Configuration
(CATCH ALL)

17.5D

BETA
MAX
.75

IS
29D/+

BETA
MAX
.75

.75

29D/+

.75

29D/+

.75

29D/+

.75

29I:)/+

.75

CONCENTRIC

ALLOWED ONLY WITH


NEW REQUIREMENTS
AND TOLERANCES

There are 2 categories to select from regarding


upstream length when tube bundles are chosen, "17
to 29D" (fig.3) and "29D and greater" (fig.4). The
length distinction has to do with beta ratio limitations.
The short grouping has generally lower beta limits
than does the long. Optimum vane placement is
noted for individual piping configurations and varies
widely between these. Standard vane location is 13D
from the plate for the long tube and 9.5D for the short
version. There is a "universal" or "catch all"
installation for vane equipped meter tubes, but the
beta ratio is limited to .46 for upstream lengths of less
than 29D and .67 for 29D or longer. Some of the
specific categories allow to .75 beta for the 29D and
longer tubes.
Figure 3

WAS
16.5D

BETA
MAX
.75

1 ELL

17-29D

BETA
MAX
.75

2 ELLS
out of plane

I5D

.75

17-29D

.67

TEE

N/A

17-29D

.54

VALVE 50% MIN


OPEN
HIGH SWIRL W/
90 TEE

17.5D

17-29D

.47

17-29D

.54

ANY
CONFIGURATION
(CATCH ALL)
2 ELLS
close coupled

17.5D

.75

17-29D

.46

13.5D

.75

N/A

Nm

2 ELLS/10D +
space between
Concentric
Reducer

16.5D

.75

N/A

N/A

13.5D

.75

N/A

N/A

.75

N/A

IS

N/A

17.5D

.75

29D/+

.67

2 ELLS
close coupled

13.5D

.75

N/A

N/A

2 ELLS
10D + space
between
Concentric
Reducer

16.5D

.75

N/A

N/A

13.5D

.75

N/A

N/A

Some of the disturbance categories shown are


difficult to interpret. One is noted as "single 90 tee".
There is no distinction given as to whether this allows
flowing from the run of the tee or the outlet or if either
is ok. There is a category "high swirl combined with
90 tee" which is not defined except in the "other flow
conditioner" test outline in the appendix which
equates this to a header type disturbance. There is
no category titled "header". There is no longer a
category for 2 elbows, same plane, either separated
by a length of straight pipe or close coupled.
Downstream lengths are essentially unchanged for all
cases, both with and without vanes or conditioners.

METER TUBES WITH TUBE BUNDLES


17 TO 29D UPSTREAM
CATEGORY

.75

F L O W CONDITIONERS
Flow conditioners, other than the 19 tube, concentric
tube bundle are acceptable if they have passed a
strictly defined test program. The use of one of these
devices
will
allow
upstream
pipe
lengths
recommended by the individual manufacturers, which
may well be considerably shorter than those for tube
bundle equipped tubes. Typically, these conditioners
will both remove swirl and generate a near fully
developed turbulent flow profile at the orifice, without
adding any additional uncertainty to the installation.

THERMOMETER WELLS
Thermowell locations, when preceding the orifice, are
now limited to 36" minimum, upstream of the tube
bundle, as opposed to the range of 12"-36" previously
noted. This upstream location is seldom used in
practice, except in bi-directiona[ flow.
647

TAP HOLE ORIENTATION

INCREASED DIFFERENTIAL PRESSURE

Though it is not a problem with orifice fittings, the taps


being used for measurement must now be in line,
eliminating any installation where staggered taps (fig.
6) might be desired. Some users of orifice flanges
have typically staggered up and downstream taps for
isolating valve clearance. This will no longer be
allowed.

An appendix has been added listing maximum


allowable differential for standard and optional
thickness plates. These figures indicate only the plate
deflection consideration for fitting or flange
installations, and do not consider any functional or
operational problems that might occur due to the
increased
plate
loading.
Individual
fitting
manufacturers
should
be
consulted
before
considering these higher differentials. Other potential
problems may exist due to increased velocities. The
intent is to allow increased flow in a given meter tube
without having to increase the tube size.

Figure 6

N
E A~R ' F A( -""'~
R FLANGE
FLANGE

TAP

GRANDFATHER CLAUSE

"rAf'

A grandfather clause stating that upgrading of


existing installed units is not required also warns of
potential bias errors due to previous installation
recommendations. This suggests that previous
upstream lengths may be inadequate. Also, tube
bundle designs as well as their location may create
flow disturbances that would not exist without the
bundle, resulting in biased measurement. It is
suggested that all new installations meet the new
requirements, which represent the latest technology.

f q\Y.-hTC \

PLATE THICKNESS
The recommended orifice plate thickness for 8" and
24" line sizes has been increased; From 1/8" to
1/4"(8") and 3/8" to 1/2"(24"). Both sizes were limited
to low differential pressures due to previous
thickness. This change may create some field
problems where current installations using the thinner
plates exist. Though the new, thicker plates with
appropriate seal may well fit in the older fittings, the
resulting tap hole to plate face dimension may not
meet the allowable tolerance requirement. Users
should be aware of this and act accordingly.

GAGE LINE LENGTH


Pressure tap gage line length (Fig.7) is discussed,
with equations given to determine the proper length to
eliminate any resonance or to prevent amplifying
pulsations that may be present. Frequency and speed
of sound in the flowing fluid are required inputs to the
equations.

GENERAL
The format of the new standard is quite different from
that of previous editions. Even those familiar with the
earlier versions will need to read through the new
standard carefully to insure complete understanding
of the changes and any effects they might have on
their particular operation. There are numerous
additions and minor descriptive changes throughout
the document. It should be remembered that the
object of this revision is to enhance the ability of the
orifice to meet the demands of today's users. Most of
the changes in this document are based on a
considerable amount of data obtained from
comprehensive test programs in an effort to improve
the reliability and accuracy of the orifice.
REFERENCES

1. Orifice Meterinq of Natural .Gas and Other


Related Fluids, AGA Report #3, Part 2 - (API
14.3.2)
Specification
and
Installation
Requirements, Fourth Edition, April 2000.

Figure 7

2.

648

Natural Gas Fluids Measurement, API MPMS


Chapter 14, Section 3, Part 2 - Specification and
Installation Requirements, Third Edition, February
1991