By Heekyong Yang and Sangmi Cha
SEOUL, November 10 (Reuters) – South Korea’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday it had obtained enough urea, used in diesel vehicles and factories to cut emissions, from China to meet demand for three months amid acute shortages. threatening to shut down transport and industries.
But until Beijing relaxes a customs check that effectively halted urea exports to boost domestic supply, the shortage in South Korea, which depends almost entirely on China for its supply, is expected to persist, said experts and industry sources.
A previously contracted supply of 18,700 tonnes of urea will pass through customs after completing the inspection required by Chinese authorities, South Korea’s foreign ministry said.
He said he would continue to work with China through diplomatic channels to ensure a stable supply.
The sudden and acute shortage of urea at gas stations has left diesel vehicle drivers in panic and industry officials have said the stock of urea for factories is low. According to industry experts, around two million diesel vehicles, mostly freight trucks, are required by the government to use the additive.
South Korea has been pushing to secure its supply, this week flying a military tanker to Australia and diversifying its supplies to other countries, but industry officials say measures remain at best a temporary solution.
“Today’s announcement from the Foreign Ministry does not specify when and how much urea China will export at one time,” said Lee Hang-koo, executive adviser at the Korea Institute of Automotive Technology, adding that a shortage of shipping containers would likely become another challenge to deliver the much-needed urea on time.
“It’s like a punch that won’t end until China lifts its urea export restrictions (…) supply chain management is very complicated and it There is no quick fix to this urea situation, ”Lee said.
Almost 97% of South Korea’s urea imports came from China between January and September, according to the Commerce Ministry.
Delivering 18,700 tonnes of urea by mass translates to around 56,100 tonnes of fluid urea solution, which experts say could take up to three months.
A presidential official at Maison Bleue told reporters the government was doing everything in its power to secure more supplies, but “it is not easy to be optimistic.”
The government released public and military stocks as a temporary measure.
(Reporting by Heekyong Yang and Sangmi Cha; editing by Michael Perry)
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