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17 Mar, 2022 12:09

Anti-Russian sanctions may stop Finnish diesel cars – media

Fuel additive shortage may leave the Nordic country without heavy road transportation, newspaper warned
Anti-Russian sanctions may stop Finnish diesel cars – media

Finland is at risk of being forced to shut down a large chunk of its heavy road traffic due to sanctions it imposed against Russia, the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat warned on Wednesday. Diesel engines that used by heavy-duty vehicles need fuel with an anti-pollution additive produced using supplies from Russia.

The diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), marketed as AdBlue, is a urea solution that makes the catalytic reactions in modern diesel vehicles which reduce exhaust pollution possible. Sanctions that EU nations imposed on Russian chemical companies mean they cannot import urea from the country, putting a strain on AdBlue manufacturing. 

The supply crisis cannot be resolved immediately, Jari Makkonen, the CEO of Finland’s largest producer of DEF, Arom-Dekor, told the newspaper. Finland consumes some 75 to 80 million liters of AdBlue per year, and the reserves may be depleted within weeks, if the crisis is not averted, the executive warned.

Norwegian chemical giant Yara, which is another major producer of AdBlue in Finland, had to stop buying urea from Russia too. It said it hoped to compensate by using its international logistic lines but acknowledged that shortages were possible.

Further exacerbating the situation is the fact that urea is produced from natural gas, which is at record high prices on the European market, partially due to tensions with Russia, Europe’s biggest supplier. European sanctions didn’t apply to Russian gas deliveries, but the EU said it was going to phase it out and stop relying on Moscow for energy in the future.

Petri Murto, who heads the Finnish transport industry association SKAL, said the situation was not yet “acute”, but individual companies may have to deal with a lack of proper diesel fuel. 

Theoretically, engines can be modified to bypass the catalytic converter and run dirty, but that would require the government to change the law. Finnish authorities are currently discussing such emergency measures, the report said.

Last November, South Korea faced similar economic challenges after Japan restricted shipments of urea to its Pacific neighbor. In addition to being used in diesel fuel, the chemical is a crucial raw material for fertilizer production. Russia was one of the countries that Seoul asked to ramp up supplies.