Australia’s national fuel supply at risk due to AdBlue shortage

A defence specialist has warned that a lack of the diesel exhaust additive AdBlue might disrupt Australia’s national fuel supply.

The great bulk of petrol and diesel in Australia is transported by trucks, rather than railways or coastal marine tankers, according to John Blackburn, a former deputy head of the Royal Australian Air Force and an expert on fuel security.

“If this has an impact on vehicles and logistics, it will have an impact on fuel supplies,” Blackburn added.

Most modern diesel engines require AdBlue to reduce pollutants, but there are shortages because the product’s main ingredient, urea, which is also used as a fertiliser, is running dangerously low after China prohibited exports. The price of gas, which is the major feedstock for urea, is also contributing to the scarcity.

According to the National Road Deliver Association (NatRoad), huge road tankers transport practically all fuel in Australia.

According to a spokeswoman for the association, all of these gasoline vehicles are likely to be among the 1.5 million trucks affected by the AdBlue shortage.

The larger the vehicle, the more modern it is, and the more probable it is to be diesel-powered, according to the representative.

There were 20.1 million registered motor vehicles in January of this year, with trucks accounting for 15.6 percent (4.1 million). Diesel vehicles now account for 26.4 percent of all vehicles, up from 20.9 percent in 2016, and AdBlue is used in practically all modern diesel engines (those manufactured in the last ten years).

According to NatRoad, AdBlue is used by more than 40% of Australian freight trucks, but the ratio would be higher for long-haul tankers.

According to a NatRoad official, the shortfall is affecting the bush the hardest and first.

“NatRoad is receiving calls from members in regional areas indicating that supplies have run out or costs have risen,” he said.

“AdBlue was selling for 70c a litre a few weeks ago, and now we’re hearing $2 and $3 a litre at the pump in some locations,” says the company. This indicates a significant supply scarcity – or price gouging.”

Angus Taylor, Australia’s energy minister, has established an AdBlue team chaired by James Fazzino, chair of Manufacturing Australia, with Andrew Liveris, former chairman and CEO of Dow Chemical Company, and Dr. Cathy Foley, Australia’s chief scientist.

Taylor said the government was working together with industry to secure a reliable, long-term supply of diesel exhaust fluid, including exploring foreign possibilities for refined urea, strengthening local manufacturing capabilities, and expanding vehicle technical options.

It is understood that AdBlue and refined urea supplies have been secured for seven weeks. According to numbers issued on Wednesday, Australia held 98 days of petroleum stock in October, including inventories arriving in Australia, compared to an average of 81 days in 2020.

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