Fertilisers are the foundations of a global food chain. Without nitrogen fertilisers the world could only sustain 3 billion people. The global population is currently 9 billion so our industry sustains people and families across the globe.
The nitrogen in our fertilisers is extracted from the air we breathe. But it’s very energy intensive to do this requiring enormous temperatures and pressures in large industrial facilities. Natural gas powers the factories that do this.
For the last thirty years Britain has become increasingly reliant on Russian gas to produce its fertilisers. Factories in western Europe have closed. And now Europe is literally fed by Putin’s Gas used in fertiliser factories spread across the Eastern Block which feed our agriculture with ship-based imports.
What remains of British fertiliser production was largely shuttered last autumn. Western European fertiliser factories have been constrained by competition for supplies of ammonia, which is used in a critical industrial feedstock.
Nobody foresaw this war but it’s been obvious for years that we need to have access to other sources of fertiliser outside the European orbit to provide food security for our nation.
The first pile on our extended liquid nitrogen fertiliser import terminal is drilled 28th Feburary 2022
That’s why Brineflow is building one of Europe’s largest dedicated liquid fertiliser import terminals in Sunderland.
Much larger than our class-leading Great Yarmouth facility, it will set new standards for efficiency and emission control by allowing the largest ships to bring this crucial national ingredient to our shores from across oceans.
With access to nitrogen fertilisers fixed on other continents and across the oceans we will be able to access global markets with deep-ocean supplied product from outside Putin’s orbit.
Our investment will make a substantial contribution to the food security for our nation.
As for the immediate situation, This year fertiliser prices have shot up by 400pc as the world economy recovery from covid has turbo charged energy demand and producers that were relying on the Nordstream2 pipeline have had to scramble for other supplies.
As we approach the period of peak usage, our tanks are brim full ready for deliver to farms. Many farmers have a proportion of the fertiliser they need in the barn already.
Sanctions from the Eastern Block will stop many planned imports so we are concerned for farmers – especially diary farmers – in the west country and Ireland who normally apply later than wheat and barley farmers in the east.
Some farmers quite literally might miss the boat with knock-on effects on the prices of milk, butter and cheese.
It will inevitably add-up to a dramatic increase in food prices as lower domestic yields and a ban on Russian and Ukrainian grains will restrict our ability to produce basic foodstuffs ourselves.
Will we get to the £3 loaf and the £7 pint? We don’t know but we are investing in the capability and capacity to allow this country to access fertilisers from around the world as a key part of this nation’s food security and the well being of families across the land.