Diesel Exhaust Fluid Shortage Could Cause Chaos for Aussie Road Users Within Months
By Alexis Carey
Another supply chain disaster is looming – and this time, it could cause huge headaches for both everyday Aussies and major industries alike.
The supply chain crisis wreaking havoc across the globe is set to step up a notch, amid reports a disastrous shortage could soon force everyday Aussie motorists off the road.
In a nutshell, the world is facing a major shortage of a key ingredient found in diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) – also known as AdBlue – with the situation set to come to a head this summer.
The crucial ingredient in question is urea, which helps to reduce emissions – a mandatory requirement of many diesel vehicles, including both trucks and private vehicles.
But supplies of urea from China have plummeted recently, causing headaches for many nations, most recently in South Korea, which last month flew a military oil tanker to Australia to collect tens of thousands of litres of the essential item.
South Korea has since banned urea exports and rationed DEF purchases in a bid to quell the crisis.
The shortage could grind the trucking industry to a halt, and impact regular road users too.
China is the major supplier of urea to the Asia-Pacific region, however, the nation has recently massively scaled back exports of the item in a bid to reduce domestic fertiliser prices. That’s because urea also a major component in fertiliser due to its high nitrogen levels.
Australia is a substantial importer of urea, with 80 per cent of our supply coming from China – and while we do create some urea locally, it’s not enough to address the issue.
Now, Australia is about to feel the pinch, with those in the know about the looming crisis affecting AdBlue reportedly attempting to stockpile supplies.
However, it is understood there is not enough product available to avert the problem, with rumours swirling that supplies could dwindle to critical levels within weeks, or by March 2022 at the latest.
If that comes to pass, thousands of private cars and commercial trucks could be forced off the road as a result, just as the busy holiday season kicks off.
‘Can’t wait another week’
An Australian Trucking Association spokesman told news.com.au that the shortage could have big impacts on all Australians.
“If it is not addressed, trucking businesses will have increasing difficulty obtaining AdBlue,” the spokesman said.
“We could see trucks pulled off the road, which would affect deliveries like fresh fruit, vegetables and meat to supermarkets.
Australia has some urea production capabilities, but not enough to meet demand.
“AdBlue suppliers are restricting deliveries now, but the situation could get much worse in the New Year if the Government does not take action.
“The shortage will also affect late model diesel cars and utes that require AdBlue.”
He said the situation would “really begin to bite by Christmas” and will come to a head in February to March, when stockpiled supplies are expected to be exhausted.
“The Australian Trucking Association started briefing government officials on November 11,” he continued.
“We helped arrange a series of follow-up discussions between the Office of Supply Chain Resilience (OSCR), trucking businesses and DEF suppliers.
“We have now started meeting with ministerial offices. The issue can’t wait another week. It certainly can’t wait ’til after Christmas.”
According to the ATA, it was crucial that Australia’s diplomats and trade staff overseas should be tasked with providing support to Australian DEF suppliers in their efforts to source urea.
“The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator should work with truck manufacturers to determine of the engineering feasibility of deactivating the emission control systems of selected trucks if the DEF shortage becomes critical.,” the spokesman said.
China has slashed urea exports in a bid to lower domestic fertiliser costs.
Government ‘aware’ of crisis
A spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister and Transport Minister Barnaby Joyce told news.com.au in a statement that the government was “aware” of the issue.
“The Government is aware of the concerns around the supply and availability of AdBlue and is continuing to monitor the situation,” the spokesman said.
“We encourage industry operators to continue operating as they normally would.”
The AdBlue shortage comes on the back of serious semi conductor supply issues, which has led to stock restraints and lower sales in the new-car market.