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A global shortage of diesel engine additive could spell disaster for the Aussie trucking industry

Australia’s trucking networks could grind to a halt within a matter of weeks due to a global shortage of a key diesel engine additive.

Supplies of the anti-pollutant AdBlue have all but dried up, forcing a global scramble to secure more of the product.

With national supply chains at risk, Australians are facing shortages on supermarket shelves by as early as mid-January and industry reps say it’s up to the federal government to take immediate action.

“A modern truck … if you’ve got no AdBlue, you literally park the vehicle. So you can see where this is going in terms of Weet-Bix on the shelf,” Australian Trucking Association chair David Smith told NCA Newswire.

Camera IconAustralia’s trucking networks are facing shortages of DEF, with a potentially devastating impact for supply chains. Credit: News Regional Media

AdBlue – technically known as Diesel Exhaust Fluid or DEF – is a liquid which sits in a separate tank on newer model diesel vehicles and is mixed into exhaust to reduce the level of harmful emissions.

A key ingredient in the product is known as urea, which currently is in dangerously low supply around the world.

Most in the industry are reasonably confident domestic stocks will last throughout the busy Christmas period, but not much longer.

Managing director of Shaws Darwin Transport Allan Thornley said most bulk users had some stock in reserve, however none he had talked to had enough to last beyond January.

“While not all trucks use it, if you’re talking interstate linehaul and all the stuff between state capitals, all those trucks use it – they won’t operate without it,” he said.

Mack Trident fuel carrier truck used by Central State Fuels (Pic: Supplied image).
Camera IconChina recently turned off the taps of key ingredient, urea. Credit: News Corp Australia

Last month, South Korea took the emergency step of importing 27,000 litres of urea solution from Australia after China dramatically tightened grips on its own supply.

“China has turned off the tap … they need all they can produce for their own uses – and consequently our supply is broken,” Mr Thornley explained.

Industry reps said “serious” action was necessary to determine an alternative source of urea from overseas, however with most countries in a similar position, options are limited.

“I’ve talked to my supplier of AdBlue and he’s already canvassed right through Europe and everywhere and can’t find any,” Mr Smith said.

“There is nothing made or consumed in this world that doesn’t go on a truck somewhere.

“We need a joint effort between federal government and industry leaders to sit down and figure out what are we going to do.”

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