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Crude oil prices effecting road repair work

Lawton_Are you sick of potholes and cracking roads?  Well, you had better get used to it because a nationwide asphalt shortage is leaving counties with no choice but to leave repairs for a later time.  The cost of oil is reducing the amount of crude oil that can be distributed for road repairs. 

SEM-Materials provides all of the crude oil used to chip and seal county roads for most of Southwestern Oklahoma, and it's warning counties in the 7News viewing area that "the well is running dry."  The company is limiting the amount of oil counties can purchase to 7,500 gallons until the issue is resolved.  Although it may seem like a significant number, that amount of oil will only patch a little more than one mile of road for the entire county. 

It gets worse.  Our roads are in desperate need of repair, and there's no sign that SEM's oil rationing will stop anytime soon.  "At the moment we aren't going to pave anything until we can figure out what's going to happen with it," said Comanche County Commissioner Susan Ulrich.  "Usually we do the most during the August period for the county, so it hit us right at a very bad time," said Comanche County Commissioner Gail Turner.  So, instead of paving or re-paving roads, the county will only be able to patch them up here-and-there. 

Since there aren't many companies that supply the type of oil that is needed for asphalt, and most that do are out of state, Comanche County is looking into a company out of Waco, Texas.  However, that will cost a lot more - double the usual cost since it will have to be freighted to the counties for use.  "We're very concerned about the situation," said Turner. 

County commissioners say they are delaying many road projects until our oil problems are sorted out.  "I don't think we can afford to pay double what we're paying," said Ulrich.  "We struggle to do what we do each year, so I don't see how we could possibly pay double."  For now, Comanche County will use the small amount it already has for only patching purposes while they hope another company will come through with a lower price. 

And, the situation could get worse.  Chip and tar work is typically done during the summer months when temperatures are optimum, and once temperatures begin to consecutively hit the sixties overnight, it means no more chipping for the remainder of the season.  If you live on a road that needs work, commissioners ask that you be patient - they're doing the best that they can. 

SEM-Materials recently filed for bankruptcy, but they say it has nothing to do with the oil cutbacks.  Instead, they say the oil limitations are directly handed down from their supplier.

Count on 7News to keep you updated.

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