What is urea and AdBlue, and why does a worldwide shortage threaten Australia’s supply chain?

3 min read You may have never heard of urea, but the worldwide shortage of the chemical compound could bring Australia’s supply chain to its knees in a matter of weeks.

The world is facing a major shortage of the compound, a key ingredient found in the diesel ­exhaust fluid AdBlue and a large component in fertiliser.

The main reason for the shortage is that China, which previously supplied 80% of Australia’s urea supplies, has banned export of the product. That’s because the cost of fertiliser has skyrocketed and China wants to slow that price growth.

But this could inadvertently force many of Australia’s trucks off the road, as urea is injected into the exhaust systems of modern diesel vehicles to reduce emissions, which is a requirement for trucks, private vehicles and tractors.

The shortage could also lead to higher food prices at the register.

So what is urea and how badly could the shortage impact Australia’s supply chain?