U.S. pipe demand expected to grow

Despite a weak current construction environment, pipe demand is expected to turn around and grow 2.0 percent annually to 11.1 billion feet in 2013.

Stimulants include renewed activity in the construction sector, the growing obsolescence of sewer and drainage systems, and needs to upgrade municipal water systems. Plastic pipe will advance at the fastest pace. Construction and energy markets will provide the best market opportunities, together accounting for nearly two-thirds of total pipe use in 2013.

These and other trends are presented in Plastic & Competitive Pipe, a new study from research firm, The Freedonia Group Inc.

Demand for plastic pipe will advance 2.3 percent yearly to 5.0 billion feet in 2013, creating demand for 9.2 billion pounds of resin. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe will remain dominant and be driven by improved joining technologies and resins such as molecularly oriented PVC. High density polyethylene pipe will exhibit the fastest plastic pipe growth based on opportunities in potable water and corrugated drain and sewer applications. Demand for reinforced thermosets and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene resins will expand at a below average pace due to mature markets and more specialized applications.

Copper pipe demand is forecast to grow 1.9 percent annually through 2013, paced by opportunities in service and distribution pipe. Demand for steel pipe will grow at a slow pace through 2013, with above average growth anticipated in gas and oil pipe. Aluminum pipe demand advances will result from opportunities in motor vehicle and refrigeration equipment uses. Demand for concrete pipe will rebound and expand 2.0 percent per year through 2013 to 180 million feet, driven by drain and storm sewer applications. More favorable raw material pricing will also contribute to pipe growth.

Structural, mechanical and miscellaneous uses, led by refrigeration tubing, will remain the leading pipe market through 2013, followed by potable water and conduit.

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