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U.S. Asphalt Demand to Reach 26.8 Million Tons in 2019

U.S. demand for asphalt is forecast to increase 3.3 percent annually to 26.8 million tons in 2019.

This is equivalent to 148 million barrels of asphalt, the vast majority of which is refined petroleum asphalt. Asphalt demand will be spurred by a rebound in building construction, which will boost demand for asphalt shingles and such low-slope roofing products as modified bitumen membranes.

In the much larger asphalt paving segment, gains will be supported by the efforts of state and local governments to maintain the nation’s aging road and highway network. Legislative bodies are expected to allocate more funds for repair work, supporting the use of asphalt cements and asphalt emulsions.

These and other trends are presented in Asphalt, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry market research firm.

Paving was the largest end use for asphalt in 2014 with three-fourths of consumption. Analyst Matt Zielenski forecasts, “Demand for asphalt in paving applications will advance 3.1 percent annually to 19.6 million tons.” Improving economic conditions and the pressing need to fix and repair older roads and highways will support growth.

However, more rapid advances will be checked by concerns about excessive government spending among state and local legislative bodies that will be reluctant to commit the funds necessary for large-scale highway and road construction programs.

Among asphalt paving products, asphalt emulsions will see the fastest growth in demand through 2019, boosted by increasing interest in in-place recycling. Asphalt emulsions can be used to recycle older pavements while minimizing asphalt consumption, thus reducing the time and cost of paving jobs.

Asphalt cement will remain the leading paving material used in the US due to the prevalence of hot-mix and warm-mix asphalts in paving jobs. These products are favored because of their moderate cost and solid performance properties, such as durability and good drainage.

Demand for asphalt used to make roofing and other building construction products is forecast to rise 3.7 percent annually to 7.2 million tons in 2019, spurred by rebounding building construction.

Strong growth in single-family housing starts will boost demand for asphalt shingles, as will a more favorable lending environment that will encourage homeowners to replace older or worn roofing with more durable and aesthetically pleasing laminated asphalt shingles. In the nonresidential segment, the large base of structures with installed bituminous low-slope roofing will support reroofing demand.