SEM Group asphalt plant to resume operations
An asphalt plant that supplies much of western Colorado and eastern Utah with road materials was due to close, but instead will ramp up production, allowing the Mesa County Road and Bridge Department to do its annual road-maintenance program.
SEMGroup Energy Partners LP is in the midst of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but it will continue to operate and own the local asphalt distribution facility at 202 Fourth St. Suncor Energy will supply the facility with asphalt products produced at its Commerce City facility.
“We have not acquired these assets. This is a production agreement,” said Lisha Burnett, spokeswoman for Suncor Energy. “We will be processing the products we produce at the (Commerce City) refinery into a line of asphalt products.”
She added that the agreement allows Suncorp “exclusive use of the facility.”
Because of SEM’s financial troubles, Road and Bridge Department Director Eric Bruton had resigned himself to no chip-seal or road-maintenance program this year. Now that Canada-based Suncorp has stepped in, he said the county may be able to complete half of its normal yearly road maintenance.
“We are going to have a chip-seal program this year,” Bruton said.
In a normal year, the county spends about $400,000 and is able to chip seal about 35 miles of road. The chip seal is a mix of small rocks and an oil-based emulsion. The seal adds years to the life of roads.
It will take a few weeks before the asphalt is flowing and the county can begin its road maintenance.
“We do anticipate we will have the asphalt (plant) online by mid-June,” Burnett said.
Suncorp is assuming control of two other SEMGroup facilities in Commerce City and one in Pueblo, Bruton said.
The city of Grand Junction was not affected by the SEM plant’s difficulties. It has been purchasing its asphalt from a Front Range supplier for the last several years.
The Colorado Department of Transportation, which had been using the SEM plant for supplies, made contracts with other suppliers earlier this year when SEM’s ability to deliver road-maintenance supplies was in doubt.