A change in the type of oil processed at the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes has led to a liquid asphalt shortage for at least four counties...
A change in the type of oil processed at the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes has led to a liquid asphalt shortage for at least four counties in Washington, affecting miles of road maintenance.
Similar changes at refineries around the country are affecting asphalt supplies elsewhere.
Albina Asphalt Products, based in Vancouver, Wash., which supplies asphalt to counties, reported this month that its suppliers, including Tesoro, have cut back production, meaning the company’s supplies of asphalt plummeted.
“Our suppliers cut us off on it,” said Erwin Winter, Albina’s operations manager. “This is a global event. There’s already been curtailment in Wyoming and Utah.”
Most Read Local Stories
- Driver 'appeared to be dancing and smiling' after Aurora crash that killed 2, charging papers say
- 'Cutting and running': King County closing its doors to street danger sends exactly the wrong message | Danny Westneat
- Can you tell which face is real? UW and WSU plan to fight digital ‘deepfakes’ VIEW
- Washington state is No. 1. Of course! But which states are the worst?
- What are the political lines in your Seattle neighborhood? See where council candidates did best, worst.
On Tuesday, Pierce County announced that it will be able to seal only 22 lane miles of roadway this summer, instead of the planned 70, because of the shortage. Jefferson, Lewis and Clallam counties are also among those affected, along with 18 projects planned by the state Department of Transportation.
Keith Muggoch, a senior engineer for Lewis County, said 50 miles of road maintenance will be postponed.
Lloyd Brown, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said the state will evaluate each project that had listed Tesoro as a supplier of asphalt, and either increase the time frames or seek other solutions.
Brown said the state contracts out to different road-construction companies and it’s up to those companies to find remedies for unexpected changes.
Brown said the agency did not expect an increase in cost at this time.
The woes in Washington state are the latest in a growing challenge for counties, cities and states, as the rising price of oil prompts refineries to switch to oil that does not produce asphalt. New York, Colorado, and Oklahoma are other states that have reported delays in road projects.
Sarah Simpson, a Tesoro spokeswoman, said the company notified its customers earlier this year it would stop asphalt production at Anacortes.
“The crude oils that we are now running at Anacortes are not conducive to producing paving-grade asphalt,” Simpson said.
Simpson said refiners that do not own oil, such as Tesoro, have been hard-hit by rising crude-oil prices, prompting them to focus on a type of oil that produces products such as gasoline and diesel fuel.