The AdBlue ‘crisis’ is more of a wake-up call

The AdBlue ‘crisis’, as it being called, is more of a wake-up call than a catastrophe.

Yesterday, a special roundtable was convened by the Department of Infrastructure towards resolving the issues that have threatened to disrupt Australia’s supply of urea.

If the worst case scenario eventuates  – it is true that a substantial part of our road transport fleet could be grounded. However, the Government and industry’s collaborative efforts are already delivering some positive outcomes.

Urea is the core ingredient of AdBlue, the additive used in modern diesel engines to eliminate potentially harmful emissions in exhaust gasses and reduce air pollution.

Worldwide, an unfortunate chain of circumstances has disrupted the normal urea supply chain.  This is concerning, but by working together, it is solvable.

Government is acting.  Federal Industry and Energy Minister Angus Taylor MP has taken the lead and is coordinating a cross departmental effort. He has already co-opted Australia’s Chief Scientist to investigate scientific options for locally produced supply.

Minister Taylor said businesses and consumers buying additional stocks is unnecessary and unhelpful, and urged industry to continue operating as per usual and maintain normal levels of AdBlue.

“We are quickly and actively working to ensure supply chains of both refined urea and AdBlue are secure so that industry can have certainty on their operations,” Minister Taylor said

“Global supply pressures, stemming from increased domestic use in China, have led to international issues in securing refined urea, which is key to producing AdBlue. This is exacerbated by the global shortage of natural gas, the essential ingredient used to make urea.

“I can assure Australians that the Government is working to ensure we do not face any shortages. We are pursuing a range of measures to address global pressures in the urea market. We will keep our trucks running and Australian motorists on the road.”

Alternative sources for importing urea are being explored by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of Industry.  This could potentially include countries like Indonesia, Turkey or Saudi Arabia.

If we can avoid panic buying and hoarding, Australia’s supply should be secure until at least February or March, providing the breathing space to find a solution.  Don’t be mistaken – action must be taken urgently, but it is wrong to think nothing is being done.

While the problem has international roots, it is another example of our country’s resilience being tested. In this global economy it has been accepted practice to produce what you are good at and import everything else.

Between the 2019-20 bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic, industry and Government have functioned at unprecedented break-neck speeds to develop solutions for a whole range of emerging challenges. And this is another one.

You might read or hear fearmongering suggesting that we are on the cusp of a major crisis, but it is more a case of being vigilant and alert, rather then alarmed, as industry and government work together to find alternative solutions.

In many ways this is an opportunity for Australian industry. As always, when the chips are down industry will step up. It already is. 

Todd Hacking
HVIA Chief Executive

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