Report: US pipe demand to exceed $63 billion

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The U.S. demand for pipes to carry everything from crude oil and natural gas to potable water and storm water is expected to go up 7.3 percent annually and become a $63.5 billion industry in 2018, according to a new report.

Plastic pipes will gain more ground than any other material with an 8.7 percent a year increase in demand projected by Cleveland-based Freedonia Group Inc.

However, steel will continue to account for the largest share of pipe demand by value, maintaining its 62 percent hold on the market because of its dominance in the oil and gas gathering applications, the Cleveland-based market research firm says.

Plastic pipe will keep the second spot and see its share of the market increase slightly from 20 percent in 2013 to 21.4 percent in 2018, Freedonia analysts predict. Growth in use of plastic pipes will come at the expense of such materials as steel and concrete.

The forecast says, “In such applications 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.”

Through the next four years, PVC will continue to be the leading plastic pipe resin, particularly for water distribution, sanitary sewers, conduit and agricultural uses, because of its durability and resistance to degradation, Freedonia says. But demand for high density polyethylene pipes will see a big boost in sewer, drainage, potable water and natural gas distribution applications.

Pipes made from copper, ductile iron and concrete, respectively, round out the Top 5 materials in demand, according to the 366-page study called “Plastics & Competitive Pipe.”