Ukraine war impacts AdBlue availability

Ukraine war impacts AdBlue availability

The impact of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine is well-known, with thousands fleeing the country and innocent people being murdered. There are also other lesser known effects, including a potential AdBlue shortage.

Produced in the same plants as fertilisers, AdBlue is essential for a functioning transport sector and for cleaning the air we breathe. Now Yara, one of the world’s largest producers of AdBlue, has raised the concern that the war could impact AdBlue availability.

More than 29 million vehicles in Europe require AdBlue, which allows them to run without emitting dangerous NOx exhaust fumes. This includes 25 million passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, as well as roughly half of the continent’s trucks and buses. Without AdBlue, these vehicles cannot function, potentially bringing Europe’s transport sector to its knees. 

“Continuous and undisrupted supply of AdBlue is vital. Clean air to breathe and a functioning transport sector are fundamental for society,” says Jorge Noval, president of Yara Industrial Solutions. “Fertiliser and food supplies, pharmaceutical and hospital supplies – they all rely on AdBlue.”

The manufacture of AdBlue is an integrated part of the production of nitrogen for fertilisers. This vital industry uses natural gas as feedstock.

Weaponised by Putin, this critical resource is now at risk. Skyrocketing natural gas prices have already led to widespread production curtailments. But an outright stop of gas supplies would hit more than just the production of fertilisers. The European food chain relies on essential nitrogen industry outputs for the meat, food processing, and beverage industries. One of its most critical functions is in the unbroken low temperature-controlled network necessary for preserving food as it travels through the supply chain.

Beyond the food chain, European industry needs nitrogen products in the health, pharmaceutical, construction, and other sectors. Coal-fired power plants – now restarting to produce electricity in Europe  – also need nitrogen solutions to operate without dangerous NOx emissions. 

With carbon emissions considerably below global averages, Europe’s nitrogen industry is instrumental in keeping the lights on and the wheels turning. 

The very functioning of the continent is in peril without a strong European nitrogen industry. According to Yara, this means the EU’s package of solutions for its fertiliser industry should include measures to:

  • Secure continued access to natural gas for fertiliser plants. Natural gas is the feedstock needed to keep production running, the lights on, and the wheels turning.
  • Reinforce Europe’s strategic autonomy. Rather than lowering barriers to imports from Russia or elsewhere, European authorities should prioritise the supply of raw materials for European nitrogen production to avoid increased carbon emissions and prevent new dependencies. The EU should also monitor and control the volumes coming into Europe from Russia.

“Yara looks forward to contributing to the debate within the European Parliament and with national governments on the EU fertiliser communication. Europe needs a robust nitrogen industry to ensure food security and a functioning, autonomous, and resilient Europe,” emphasises Noval.

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Focus on Transport

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publication in southern Africa.
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