Yet another bitumen shortage is looming in South Africa in the first half of this year.

The local construction industry braces itself for yet another bitumen shortage

This will result from planned maintenance shutdowns by three oil refineries. The shortage will critically disrupt road construction and rehabilitation activities across the country.

A shortage of around 20% of the country’s bitumen requirement is expected due to the shutdowns. It is almost certain that demand will outstrip supply despite import figures of the material.

Bitumen imports have significant cost implications as they involve a R1 500 a ton premium compared with the local price, he said. Road construction and rehabilitation company Raubex has confirmed in that it will be investing about R20 million in storage facilities to cushion it from the impact of bitumen shortages.

A shortage of bitumen in the local market lasting for several months from October 2011 caused chaos in the road construction and rehabilitation industry. It led to a grinding halt for many jobs done by smaller enterprises in the sector that used asphalt for driveways, parking lots and small contracting work. Some of these firms are believed to have since gone out of business because of cash flow problems caused by the bitumen shortage.

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