Global demand for plastic pipe is forecast to rise 6.2% annually through 2017 to 23 mln metric tons, improving significantly from growth recorded between 2007 and 2012, as per Freedonia Group. Construction related pipe applications will offer the most impetus for growth across the board. In particular, a recovering US construction industry will drive demand gains. Plastic pipe will continue to supplant competing materials (e.g., steel, copper, ductile iron) in many construction applications due to its low cost, installation ease, and performance advantages. Across all years, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is the leader, accounting for 55% of all plastic pipe demand. Nearly all end users utilize PVC to some degree. High density polyethylene (HDPE) is expected to take market share away from PVC in potable water distribution applications as crosslinked polyethylene (PEX) becomes more common in many regional markets. In addition, demand for fiberglass, which has historically been limited based on its high price, is beginning to be used in a wider array of water and wastewater settings. Demand gains in terms of weight will benefit from plastics' increased acceptance in larger diameters. The majority of large diameter plastic pipe is found in infrastructure applications, such as potable water transmission and sewer and drainage networks. In many developed countries, decaying infrastructures will drive sales gains. As replacement activity picks up, many countries will utilize plastic pipe primarily because of its lower costs and ease of installation. Among developing nations, investment in establishing local water and wastewater infrastructures will stimulate demand. While plastic is not as widely utilized in the oil and gas market, improvements in resin formulations have enabled plastic (particularly HDPE and fiberglass) to increase its market share in recent years. In process manufacturing applications, HDPE's greater flexibility has resulted in its increased usage. Fiberglass is utilized in the process manufacturing market when particularly hazardous materials are present. Going forward, demand is expected to benefit from gains in manufacturing output and growth in crude oil and natural gas production and consumption, including increases in exploratory, well drilling and pipeline construction activity. Demand gains in terms of weight will benefit from plastics’ increased acceptance in larger diameters.
Global demand for water pipe is forecast to increase 6.8% pa through 2017 to almost 14 bln meters, an acceleration from the pace of the 2007- 2012 period, as per ReportLinker. Advances will result from two key factors: in developing nations, access to water supply and sanitation will be increased; in developed nations, a rebound in construction spending will boost demand for building pipe. Plastic pipe will post the strongest gains, as these types continue to displace concrete and metal materials in a range of markets, particularly water distribution. China alone is forecast to account for one-half of the increase in global water pipe demand generated between 2012 and 2017. The country’s vast population makes infrastructure and sewage system development a necessity, supporting demand by households that previously did not have a piped water supply. Other industrializing countries in Asia, such as India and Indonesia, and in the Africa/ Mideast region will also contribute to overall water pipe demand. Among markets, building will remain the leading market through the forecast period. Recovery in the US economy, especially a rebound in US housing starts, will boost demand for water pipe. Gains in sewer and transmission applications will be prompted by expansion of water supply services, access to which in many countries remains considerably low, due to a lack of funding. In the least developed parts of Asia and Africa, market gains will continue, but even a robust level of growth will leave several hundred million people without access to safe water or even minimal sanitation facilities. Plastic pipe will experience the fastest growth through 2017. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) will remain the leading plastic resin due to its use in small diameter applications in the potable water distribution and irrigation markets. HDPE pipe will supplant concrete, PVC, and steel pipe in drainage, storm sewer, and potable water applications. Concrete pipe will benefit from increased infrastructure spending, and copper pipe will benefit from a recovery in construction spending. However, gains for both materials will be adversely impacted by competition from plastic pipe.