Colorado Public Works Journal, Winter 2023

50┃ Colorado Public Works Journal Tom Peterson is the Executive Director of Colorado Asphalt Pavement Association (CAPA) and he can be reached at CAPA NEWS & VIEWS Tom Peterson 2023 – The Asphalt Industry Outlook As we start the new year we are reminded that there will most likely be a “curve ball” around the corner that we are not anticipating. 2020 brought the Covid-19 Pandemic. 2021 saw supply chain disruptions, and 2022 saw unprecedented inflation. No one could have predicted these market conditions nor the impact they had on the construction industry. CAPA is projecting a 6% decrease in the asphalt paving market in 2023. We estimate 9.25 million tons placed in 2022 and expect a decrease to 8.7 million tons in 2023. Higher interest rates and inflation are causing a slow down in the commercial and residential market and the CDOT tonnage is expected to drop from nearly 2 million tons in 2022 to around 1.6 million tons in 2023. A complete analysis is available from the CAPA website One issue that the asphalt industry of Colorado starts 2023 working through is the shutdown of the Suncor Energy refinery in Commerce City. In a statement released on December 28, Suncor stated that due to extreme and record-setting weather in the days leading up to December 24, the Suncor Energy refinery in Commerce experienced equipment damage. The entire facility has been shut down for full inspection and repair. The inspection and repair of the damaged equipment is ongoing. The statement concluded with the following: “Based on our current assessment we anticipate a progressive restart of the facility with a return to full operations expected to be completed by late Q1 2023.” The Suncor Refinery is the one and only refinery in Colorado and provides most of the liquid asphalt in Colorado. Fortunately, nearly all asphalt operations (asphalt material production facilities) are covered with snow and not operating. The months of January through March are generally when plants undergo winter maintenance and tune ups for the coming year. We are in contact with representatives from Suncor and understand the following: • There do not appear to be any other supply issues throughout the western states. • The extent of the damage at the Suncor refinery is being assessed. • Typical liquid asphalt products remain available. • The refinery expects to be operational by late Q1 2023. • Suncor and producers are looking to secure alternative asphalt supply. • Asphalt binder prices spiked in Q2 of 2022. Stable pricing has continued from Q3 and Q4 of 2022 into Q1 of 2023. In response to this situation and in consideration of contracts for 2023, agencies are encouraged to consider flexible project start dates and additional contract time to allow a cushion for contractors to work through any production challenges that may linger into the construction season. Suncor is providing the industry with periodic updates and CAPA will be distributing information as it becomes available.