Ukraine war, gas and the fertiliser problem

Posted: March 7, 2022 by oldbrew in Agriculture, Energy
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A key point here is that (quote) ‘Huge amounts of natural gas are needed to produce ammonia, the key ingredient in nitrogen fertiliser’. The boss of a major producer says: “Half the world’s population gets food as a result of fertilisers… and if that’s removed from the field for some crops, [the yield] will drop by 50%”. Climate obsessives calling for gas to be removed from the energy scene need to explain where the world’s nitrogen fertilisers would then come from.
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The war in Ukraine will deliver a shock to the global supply and cost of food, the boss of one of the world’s biggest fertiliser companies has said.

Yara International, which operates in more than 60 countries, buys considerable amounts of essential raw materials from Russia, says BBC Business News.

Fertiliser prices were already high due to soaring wholesale gas prices.

Yara’s boss, Svein Tore Holsether, has warned the situation could get even tougher.

“Things are changing by the hour,” he told the BBC.

“We were already in a difficult situation before the war… and now it’s additional disruption to the supply chains and we’re getting close to the most important part of this season for the Northern hemisphere, where a lot of fertiliser needs to move on and that will quite likely be impacted.”

Russia and Ukraine are some of the biggest producers in agriculture and food globally.

Russia also produces enormous amounts of nutrients, like potash and phosphate – key ingredients in fertilisers, which enable plants and crops to grow.

“Half the world’s population gets food as a result of fertilisers… and if that’s removed from the field for some crops, [the yield] will drop by 50%,” Mr Holsether said.

“For me, it’s not whether we are moving into a global food crisis – it’s how large the crisis will be.”

His company has already been affected by the conflict after a missile hit Yara’s office in Kyiv. The 11 staff were unharmed.

The Norwegian-based company isn’t directly affected by sanctions against Russia, but is having to deal with the fall-out. Trying to secure deliveries has become more difficult due to disruption in the shipping industry.

Just hours after Mr Holsether spoke to the BBC, the Russian government urged its producers to halt fertiliser exports.

He pointed out that about a quarter of the key nutrients used in European food production come from Russia.

“At the same time we’re doing whatever we can do at the moment to also find additional sources. But with such short timelines it’s limited,” he said before the news emerged.

Analysts have also warned that the move would mean higher costs for farmers and lower crop yields. That could feed through into even higher costs for food.

Huge amounts of natural gas are needed to produce ammonia, the key ingredient in nitrogen fertiliser. Yara International relies on vast quantities of Russian gas for its European plants.

Last year, it was forced to temporarily suspend production of about 40% of its capacity in Europe because of the spike in the price of wholesale gas. Other producers also cut supplies.

Full article here.

Comments
  1. […] Ukraine war, gas and the fertiliser problem […]

  2. […] Ukraine war, gas and the fertiliser problem […]

  3. oldbrew says:

    From the WSJ:

    “Europe offers another reminder to the U.S. that blocking fossil-fuel development here won’t keep carbon “in the ground.” It merely hands a strategic weapon to dictators that they will turn around and use against us.”
    . . .
    Tom Pyle sums it up with this statement:

    “The west is seeing the results of years of getting energy policy advice from Swedish teenagers, former bar tenders and washed up socialists. We need grown ups running energy policy.”

    https://judithcurry.com/2022/03/02/ukraine-climate-nexus/#more-28399

  4. Chaswarnertoo says:

    All you net zero nutters will get that population reduction, as people starve, and freeze. Well done!

  5. bonbon says:

    It is not the war per se , it is the SANCTION to destroy the Russian economy, which were prepared well in advance of the war after COP26 failed. That means that China and India, who also refused to commit economic suicide, will also be given the same treatment.
    In other words this is only the beginning. Just imagine such financial sanction weapons applied against China, the key global supply chain? Fertilizer would be the least of the problems.

    One can be sure China and India are watching with horror, and preparing. Counter measures in Russia are now in full swing, and one can be sure China is studying closely.

    In other words this is the end of the Unipolar Rules-based-Order and US/UK/EU/NATO is going absolutely nuts – they do not care if millions will starve, or voters choke at gas-station prices.

    It is extremely urgent to convene a new world security architecture, a multi-polar development architecture.

  6. oldbrew says:

    He pointed out that about a quarter of the key nutrients used in European food production come from Russia.

    That probably hasn’t appeared in too many headlines to date.

  7. […] Ukraine war, gas and the fertiliser problem […]

  8. tallbloke says:

  9. dscott8186 says:

    Well maybe the ecoloons will suggest using guano as fertilizer, a renewable resource. It was popular in the 1840s. /snark/

    A little history:

    https://ushistoryscene.com/article/guano-islands-bird-turds/

    Chile could be a source…

    Or maybe breed goldfish, they give off lots of ammonia. Just doing my part /sarcasm/

  10. IMHO The Ukraine action ain’t for the benefit f the people of Ukraine, nor really to inconvenience Russia nor Putin. The USA leadership needed a distraction so the overage american wouldn’t notice how badly their country is being run(into the ground) and if a few thousand, or millions of Ukrainians would die—Our elites just don’t give a shit. It ain’t about them, they are just pawns.

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