SOURCE: Freedonia Group

August 16, 2005 15:00 ET

Plastic & Competitive Pipe Demand to Exceed 16 Billion Feet in 2009

CLEVELAND, OH -- (MARKET WIRE) -- August 16, 2005 -- Plastic pipe will rebound with above average growth of 2.7 percent per year through 2009 after losing market share in the early 2000s due to a precipitous drop in communications conduit. This rebound will create demand for 10.6 billion pounds of resin. Plastic pipe poundage will advance at a more rapid pace than footage, reflecting plastic's inroads into larger diameter applications which have greater pressure and crush resistance requirements. Overall pipe demand is expected to increase 2.4 percent annually to 16.4 billion feet in 2009 as a result of continued highway and street construction, stricter water management regulations, and needs to replace or expand aging or obsolete sewer, drainage and municipal drinking water systems. Construction will account for one-half of all pipe used due to widespread drain, sewer, water distribution and other uses.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) will remain the dominant pipe resin with best opportunities expected in large diameter drain and sewer uses. High density polyethylene (HDPE) will rise at the fastest pace due to its flexibility, sturdiness, joint integrity and trench-laying capabilities. Growth areas include corrugated drain, gas and potable water pipe. Crosslinked PE (PEX) represents a rapidly growing niche product in markets such as underfloor radiant heating.

Copper pipe demand will expand at a near average pace based on its excellent thermal transfer properties and durability, making it ideally suited for refrigeration and indoor potable water applications. Steel pipe demand will increase at a slower annual pace as a result of mature process industry and structural applications, as well as competition from other materials in areas such as conduit and potable water. Like copper, concrete and aluminum pipe will grow at near average paces through 2009. Storm sewers will remain the leading application for concrete, with water distribution and drainage providing better growth potential. Aluminum will exhibit the best pipe opportunities in structural and mechanical areas such as motor vehicles, as well as refrigeration tubing.

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