(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with details on urea supply, military’s shipment operation)
By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, Nov. 10 — China has confirmed it will go ahead with inspection processes on 18,700 tons of urea used in automobiles before exporting it to South Korea, Seoul’s foreign ministry said Wednesday, a move expected to ease the supply crunch of the diesel exhaust fluid over the coming weeks.
Beijing has notified Seoul of the decision to proceed with the pre-shipment inspections on urea under existing contracts with local firms, the ministry said in a statement.
The South Korean Embassy in Beijing also confirmed that inspections on some of the materials that have been contracted by local companies have been completed, it added without elaborating.
The urea to be shipped from China can be used to produce approximately 561,100 tons of liquid urea used in diesel vehicles to cut emissions, a little over two months of the average domestic consumption, according to industry data.
The material, once imported, will likely provide some relief to South Korea’s desperate efforts to avert a looming logistics crisis, especially in the peak year-end season, albeit not enough for a fundamental solution.
The South Korean government has come under growing public criticism here for the shortage of urea solution, which has led to panic buying and raised concerns about more serious consequences in the nation’s logistics sectors.
The foreign ministry has stepped up efforts to explore ways to help resolve the problem diplomatically.
Beijing has recently tightened exports of urea and other raw materials amid a coal supply shortage. Coal is the main feedstock in the production of urea.
The previous day, China’s foreign ministry said it has been proactively negotiating with South Korea to resolve the issue, saying its inspection of traded items was not targeted at a particular country.
Seoul officials have been stepping up diplomatic efforts to expedite the customs procedure for urea to prevent its impact on the logistics sectors, contacting a number of other nations for additional imports.
A KC-330 tanker transport plane is set to depart later in the day to bring in 27,000 liters of urea solution from Australia, according to sources. The nation also plans to import 200 tons of urea from Vietnam next week.