AdBlue shortage or political maneuvering in Germany?

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Germany is on the brink of an AdBlue shortage, according to reports across several media outlets over the last couple of weeks. The aforementioned reports followed the announcement of the temporary closure of an AdBlue plant. It has now emerged that there apparently wasn't any problem with the production itself, but rather the gas levy the German government increased last month. The AdBlue factory says it will restart production if the government exempts it from paying the surcharge.

AdBlue shortage or political maneuvering in Germany?
Photo @ BalticEagleLTU, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

SKW, one of the largest fertilizer and AdBlue manufacturers in Germany, reduced production and its general operation in the middle of August and stopped AdBlue production at one of its plants completely. It blamed the decision on increasing energy prices and the daunting rise of the gas levy announced by the German government.

At the time of the temporary stoppage, the company’s spokesman told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that AdBlue production was simply not profitable because the company would lose as much on AdBlue production in a month as it earned in a year.

SKW was expected to have to pay a gas surcharge of €30 million per month, which, according to the spokesman, was not financially viable.

After the closure, the company said it was about to sell its last stocks of AdBlue.

“We are dry. We are emptying our stocks because we are no longer producing,” a spokesman told Reuters news agency.

The transportation sector reacted violently to the announcement fearing an upcoming AdBlue shortage.

“No AdBlue means no trucks. And that means no supplies for Germany,” Federal Association of Goods Transport and Logistics (BGL) boss Dirk Engelhardt told German newspaper Bild in a warning that a shortage could arise within two weeks.

According to Engelhardt, the price for AdBlue almost quadrupled between January 2021 and the end of August 2022 and it would cost 5 to 7 times more in September due to the aforementioned levy rise.

Some of the German press have even reported that “numerous AdBlue dealers” had turned down new customers and only supplied existing clients with limited quantities.

SKW, BGL and the transportation companies have all urged the German government to step up and act to remedy the issue. However, the German Ministry of Economic Affairs didn’t seem to be shaken by the possibility of a forthcoming AdBlue shortage.

“We have not yet been able to identify a real shortage, but we are prepared for it and will take measures if necessary to keep this important substance available,” said a spokesman for the ministry, adding that the government oversees markets that rely heavily on gas.

Surprisingly, SKW has now announced it will “warm up” its Piesteritz plant at the beginning of the week so production can be restarted when the government is ready to help them.

“Every athlete warms up before sprinting 100 meters. We’re warming up now,” the SKW spokesman explained in an apparent u-turn to the German press agency.

The company expects the government to exempt it from the gas levy or abolish the surcharge entirely.

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