Australian service stations rationing AdBlue stocks in response to potential shortage

Melody Labinsky
By Melody Labinsky
December 12 2021 - 8:00pm
AdBlue prices at service stations increased last week. According to the federal government, roughly five weeks of business-as-usual demand of the product is available.

AdBlue supplies in Australia are being rationed by service stations in response to concerns supply could run out in mid-February.

Australian Community Media has heard reports from truck drivers of out of order signs being displayed on AdBlue bowsers, while other service stations are limiting purchases to 50 litres per transaction.

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The popular diesel exhaust fluid is used by the majority of Australia's line haul truck fleet to reduce emissions.

BP has confirmed it is restricting the amount of AdBlue per transaction at some sites to ensure supply is available in the immediate term.

The company will lift these limits when greater certainty of supply has returned.

A spokesperson for BP Australia said the company is closely monitoring the global supply challenges associated with AdBlue.

"The situation is changing very rapidly and with little notice, and we are working closely with our suppliers and carefully monitoring stock levels to reduce any potential impact this may have on customers," the spokesperson said.

All Shell branded fuel and fuel services in Australia are managed by Viva Energy.

A spokesperson for Viva Energy said the company was encouraging customers to maintain their normal buying patterns of AdBlue.

"Viva Energy is monitoring our stocks closely and continuing to work with our AdBlue supplier to meet our customers' needs," the spokesperson said.

"Viva Energy is aware that Australia's AdBlue suppliers are working to resolve this issue."

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Ampol, which is in the process of transitioning Caltex facilities to the Ampol brand, was contacted but did not respond to requests for comment.

Australian Trucking Association chairman David Smith said service stations rationing AdBlue stocks was a common sense move.

"If that means more carriers can keep their trucks going, that is probably a necessary step given the pockets of shortages," he said.

"It's not right across the country at present but we do have pockets of shortage."

Taskforce set up to explore options

In response to concerns about Australia's AdBlue supplies, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications held a roundtable last Wednesday.

Mr Smith did not attend the roundtable but ATA chief executive officer Michael Deegan took part in the meeting.

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Close to 60 people were on the hook-up and according to Mr Smith, the ATA team was very disappointed in how the meeting played out.

"We felt there was no real outcome and no real way forward established in that meeting," he said.

"However, it did shine a light on the AdBlue problem and consequently Minister Angus Taylor has picked this issue up."

Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor, in conjunction with the Department for Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, will lead government efforts to ensure Australia has reliable supplies of AdBlue available.

The federal government has also set up an AdBlue taskforce.

It will be led by manufacturing Australia chairman and former Incitec Pivot CEO James Fazzino.

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Saudi Aramco director and former Dow Chemical Company chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris and Australia's chief scientist Dr Cathy Foley have been appointed to the group.

The taskforce will look at options including international supply alternatives for high-purity urea, local manufacturing capabilities and changes to vehicles.

"I'm quietly optimistic that now that the federal government has recognised the severity of the problem, they are working swiftly towards a resolution," Mr Smith 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.

- Angus Taylor

According to the federal government, Australia has normal levels of AdBlue stocks available.

More than 15 million litres of AdBlue is at hand, which is roughly five weeks of business-as-usual demand.

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Shipments of high-purity urea, the key component of AdBlue are in transit to Australia and expected to provide an extra two weeks of supply.

Mr 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," Mr 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 natual gas, the essential ingredient used to make urea."

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Melody Labinsky

Melody Labinsky

National machinery and agtech writer

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