Basell NV has set up a team to target the pipe market in China, as the company sees demand for plastic pipe there growing more than 10 percent a year.
Basell, the world's largest producer of polypropylene, said China is probably the fastest-growing market for plastic pipes in the world, with demand expected to increase from 2.23 billion feet in 2005 to 3.61 billion feet by 2010.
That demand is fueled by economic growth and environmental concerns, according to Michael Vogt, Basell's Hong Kong-based pipe business development manager for the Asia Pacific. China said last year, for example, it would spend 1 trillion yuan ($130.8 billion) by 2010 on better waste-water treatment plants and water distribution infrastructure.
But because China remains a very price-sensitive market, Vogt said Basell's new four-person China pipe team also will try to push a long-term message to Chinese pipe purchasers - that quality and long-term performance of materials should be given more attention.
``What is really important is to bring up the quality consciousness, and to bring up the total life-cycle analysis,'' Vogt said at Chinaplas 2007, held May 21-24 in Guangzhou.
Chinese standards, for example, require ready-made compounds to be used for manufacturing pressure pipe. But some manufacturers still use natural resins plus masterbatch compounds, because it is considered to be cheaper, even though those pipes have a higher failure risk, Vogt said.
The company will take its message to Chinese governments and utilities that purchase pipe, he said. Basell, based in Hoofddorp, the Netherlands, had not competed as much in the Asian pipe market in recent years, but Vogt said the company wants to be a significant player there.
Asia, in general, is the fastest-growing market for polyethylene pipe, increasing at about 8 percent a year, compared with 6-7 percent worldwide. Asia will grow from about 27 percent of the PE pipe market now to 30-31 percent by 2010, Vogt said.
Basell sells various grades of PE, PP and cross-linked PE into pipe applications in China, from drinking water and gas pressure pipes, to heating and plumbing and gravity sewage pipe.