The U.S. demand for pipe is expected to rise 7.3% per year to $63.5 billion in 2018, according to a report from 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 will also 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.
While steel accounted for the largest share of pipe demand by value in 2013 with 62% of the total, the market research firm expects plastic pipe demand 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 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.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) was the leading plastic resin used to make pipe in 2013 and will remain so in 2018. 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 (HDPE), 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 HDPE pipe in sewer and drainage, potable water, and natural gas distribution applications. HDPE pipe offers such advantages as durability and corrosion resistance.