Recovery in Construction to Drive Pipe Demand

April 9, 2009

Despite the current downswing in the construction segment, pipe demand is expected to turn around and grow 2.0 percent annually to 11.1 billion feet in 2013, according to the

Despite the current downswing in the construction segment, pipe demand is expected to turn around and grow 2.0 percent annually to 11.1 billion feet in 2013, according to the Freedonia Group ( Freedonia predicts growth will be stimulated by recovery in the construction sector, the obsolescence of sewer and drainage systems, and the growing need to upgrade municipal water systems.

Plastic pipe is expected to advance at the fastest pace, with strong demand in the construction and energy markets. Demand for plastic pipe is predicted to 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 is expected to remain the most highly demanded form of plastic pipe and, as it figures to benefit from 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, according to Freedonia. Demand for reinforced thermosets and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene resins is expected to 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 figure to be driven from opportunities in motor vehicle and refrigeration equipment uses. Demand for concrete pipe is expected 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, according to Freedonia Structural, mechanical and miscellaneous uses, led by refrigeration tubing, will remain the leading pipe market through 2013, followed by potable water and conduit. Refrigeration tubing advances will be driven by rebounding refrigeration equipment shipments, with further gains threatened by continued declines in commercial refrigeration manufacturing. Potable water pipe demand will expand as the building construction market recovers. Conduit demand will also experience renewed growth after 10 years of declines. The fastest growth is anticipated for drain pipe, driven by renewed construction activity and needs to renovate obsolete and overloaded pipe networks.

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