World demand for asphalt set to grow

Global demand for asphalt is projected to expand 2.8% a year until 2019 and will reach 122.5 million tonnes. These gains will be driven by growth in China and other developing countries as they work to improve their transportation infrastructures. This report has been published by the US-based Freedonia Group.

The report also says that mature asphalt markets in higher income countries (many of which declined between 2009 and 2014) will recover steadily, though in most cases demand will not regain 2009 levels until after 2019. The study is entitled World Asphalt (Bitumen).

This shows that the Asia/Pacific region has overtaken North America as the largest regional market for asphalt and will continue to record the fastest advances through 2019, driven primarily by strong growth in China and India. 

According to analyst Allison Blackburn, “China surpassed the US as the world’s leading asphalt consumer in 2012 and accounted for over one-fifth of the global market in 2014.”

However, growth in China will decelerate from the rapid gains of the 2009-2014 period as the country shifts its focus to repairing and maintaining current roadways rather than expanding the road network.  Asphalt demand in India will benefit from the large public works projects necessary for the country’s continued economic development. Growth is also expected to be strong in other developing Asian countries where large public works projects are planned, although activity will be affected by political and financial issues.  

North America is a major asphalt consumer because of the need for maintenance on the massive regional network of roads and highways (nearly 90% of which is in the US). Asphalt demand in the US is forecast to rebound driven by stronger economic growth and increased construction activity, and demand in 2019 is expected to surpass the 2009 level.

Recovery in asphalt demand in Western Europe will be driven by increased expenditures on road maintenance and repair applications after years of very low spending on infrastructure improvements. 

Many countries have road repair backlogs, which will bolster demand for asphalt. However, gains in asphalt demand will not match those in the US through 2019, and will not make up for the declines during the 2009-2014 period.

Freedonia Group

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