Oil companies "improve" their refining processes to squeeze the last ounce of fuel out of a barrel of oil - leaving less of the icky dregs at the bottom of barrel - like asphalt. Which means, naturally, a shortage when it comes to fixing roads.
Part of the story can be found at TigerHawk and another part at an article from last year he linked to but which can be found here.
The asphalt shortage is directly related to a refinery shortage (about which I have posted before) as well as to improved efficiency. In a speech titled "Asphalt - 2007 and beyond"- an industry representative noted the trends
- No grass root refineries have been constructed since Marathon’s facility at Garyville, LA over 30 years ago (>100 environmental permits required)
- 149 refineries are operating in the U.S. today, 38 produce asphalt or asphalt related products
- Asphalt = ~3.2% yield of U.S. refinery system
- The asphalt consumption rate is projected to increase 1.2-1.3% annually through ‘09
- EIA data October ’05 YTD vs October ’06 YTD indicates asphalt supplied was down 4%
I wonder how electric cars do on gravel roads?