U.S. demand for pipe is expected to rise 7.3% per year to $63.5 billion in 2018, according to a new study by market research firm The Freedonia Group. Gains will be driven by strong growth in crude oil and natural gas activity, as pipe is used extensively in drilling and oil and gas pipeline applications.

Demand also will be supported by a projected rebound in building construction expenditures. Increasing housing completions and strong interest in kitchen and bathroom renovation projects will boost demand for drain, waste and vent pipe, while growth in nonresidential building construction will spur demand for conduit.

“Steel accounted for the largest share of pipe demand by value in 2013, with 62% of the total, supported by its use in the large oil and gas market,” said analyst Matt Zielenski. “Steel pipe is dominant in oil and gas applications due to its low cost, durability and compression strength.”

The study, “Plastic & Competitive Pipe,” notes that plastic pipe demand is anticipated to rise at the most rapid pace of all materials, advancing 8.7% annually through 2018. Growth will be spurred by the increasing use of plastic pipe at the expense of such materials as steel and concrete. In applications such as potable water and sewer and drainage, plastic pipe will increasingly be specified by consumers trying to reduce maintenance and replacement costs. 

Rebounding building construction expenditures will spur demand for plastic pipe used as conduit, gas distribution, and drain, waste and vent pipe.

Polyvinyl chloride was the leading plastic resin used to make pipe in 2013 and will remain so in 2018, the report notes. PVC pipe is used in such applications as potable water distribution, sanitary sewer, conduit and agriculture. Demand will benefit from the material’s durability and resistance to degradation. 

High-density polyethylene, which accounted for the second largest share of plastic pipe demand in 2013, is expected to see the strongest gains through 2018, boosted by the use of durable, corrosion-resistant HDPE pipe in sewer and drainage, potable water and natural gas distribution applications, the report states.


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