How the War on Fossil Fuels Will Kill People… Urea Edition

Guest “insert p!$$ joke here” by David Middleton

Hat tip to Kip Hansen…

Urea Shortage Is Felt Around the World
Raymond Zhong

This Chemical Is in Short Supply, and the Whole World Feels It
Farmers in India are desperate. Trucks in South Korea had to be idled. Food prices, already high, could rise even further.

Dec. 6, 2021

This is a story about one of those unsung forces that quietly keep the world running. It is a story about the clockwork interconnectedness of modern civilization, about how disturbances in one part of the planet can kick up storms in another.

This is a story, naturally, about urea.

Prices for the humble chemical — yes, the stuff in urine — are soaring to levels not seen in over a decade. In this time of everything shortages and inflation worries, that alone might not sound too surprising. But urea links up several disparate-looking strands of global economic disruption, showing how easily extreme weather and shipping turmoil can cause supply shortfalls to radiate.

People and industries of all kinds are feeling the shocks. In India, a lack of urea has made farmers fear for their livelihoods. In South Korea, it meant truck drivers couldn’t start their engines.

Urea is an important type of agricultural fertilizer, so rising prices could ultimately mean higher costs at dinner tables around the world. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s index of food prices is already at its highest level since 2011. The coronavirus pandemic has caused huge numbers of people to face hunger, and increased food prices could cause even more to have trouble meeting basic dietary needs. Prices of two other widely used plant foods are skyrocketing as well.

One big reason for surging fertilizer prices is surging prices of coal and natural gas. The urea in your urine is produced in the liver. The industrial kind is made through a century-old process that turns natural gas or gas derived from coal into ammonia, which is then used to synthesize urea.


The New York Times

Industrial urea is produced from ammonia, generated with the Haber-Bosch process.

The manufacture of ammonia is crucial for the world’s agricultural industry for from it all fertilizers that contain nitrogen are produced.

Uses of ammonia
The manufacture of fertilizers is by far the most important use of ammonia. These include urea, ammonium salts (ammonium phosphates, ammonium nitrate, calcium ammonium nitrate) and solutions of ammonia.

An increasing amount of ammonia, although still small compared with other uses, is used as a concentrated solution in combating the discharge of nitrogen oxides from power stations.

Annual production of ammonia
Ammonia ranks second, to sulfuric acid, as the chemical with the largest tonnage. It is being increasingly made in countries which have low cost sources of natural gas and coal (China and Russia account for ca 40%).


Manufacture of ammonia
The manufacture of ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen takes place in two main stages:

a) the manufacture of hydrogen

b) the synthesis of ammonia (the Haber Process)


(a) The manufacture of hydrogen

Hydrogen is produced from a variety of feedstocks, mostly from natural gas, coal or naphtha. The ways in which hydrogen is obtained from these feedstocks are dealt with separately.


(b) The manufacture of ammonia (The Haber Process)



The Haber Process is of such importance to our lives that it has figured in three Nobel Prizes in chemistry, all to German scientists, over a period of nearly 90 years, a remarkable record.

The first was given in 1918, to Fritz Haber, the chemist who developed the process in the laboratory. The second was to Carl Bosch, whose brilliant engineering skills made the process viable on a massive scale, but who waited until 1931 for his award.

In 2007, Gerhard Ertl was awarded the Prize for his work on catalysis of gaseous reactions on solids. Among the wide range of reactions he studied, he gained evidence for the adsorption of nitrogen molecules and hydrogen molecules on the surface iron and that these adsorbed molecules dissociate into atoms. These atoms then join up in stages to form the ammonia molecule. It must be remembered that the conditions used in these studies (at less than 10-10 atm) are very different from the conditions used in industry, ca 150 atm.


The Essential Chemical Industry

The Haber Bosch process feeds half of humanity

About 25% of bulk chemical natural gas consumption is used as a feedstock for fertilizer production, fossil fuels contribute to the value added to our economy by farming.  The Haber-Bosch process, which manufactures synthetic fertilizer from natural gas and atmospheric nitrogen, feeds nearly half of the world population.

Trends in human population and nitrogen use throughout the twentieth century. Of the total world population (solid line), an estimate is made of the number of people that could be sustained without reactive nitrogen from the Haber–Bosch process (long dashed line), also expressed as a percentage of the global population (short dashed line). The recorded increase in average fertilizer use per hectare of agricultural land (blue symbols) and the increase in per capita meat production (green symbols) is also shown. Erisman et al., 2008

How Has the War on Fossil Fuels Driven the Urea Shortage?

The War on Fossil Fuels has largely been fought by attempting to deprive fossil fuel producers of capital and force the replacement of fossil fuels with unreliable renewable resources (wind & solar). This strategy was best summed up by Saule Omarova, whose nomination as Comptroller of the Currency was scuttled by at least five Senate Democrats.

President Biden’s controversial, Soviet-born pick to lead a key branch of the Treasury Department admitted in a newly unearthed video that she “wants” traditional fuel industries “to go bankrupt.”

Saule Omarova, Biden’s pick to be the comptroller of the currency, was filmed calling coal, oil and gas “troubled industries” in which “a lot of the small players … are going to probably go bankrupt.”

“At least, we want them to go bankrupt if we want to tackle climate change, right?” she said in the now-viral clip.

The Cornell University law professor made the remarks in February during a “Social Wealth Seminar” event hosted by the Jain Family Institute, a nonprofit research organization, Fox News said.

NY Post

The investment community has also been fighting a War on Fossil Fuels…

Why energy prices are high and rising.

The true origin of today’s energy crisis isn’t the 2020 COVID crash, but rather, the 2014 oil-price collapse. 

In the first years of the last decade, China’s strong growth propelled a global commodities boom, and kept the price of oil hovering around $100 a barrel. This was a boon to energy investors in the short run. But the rally sowed the seeds of its own undoing. Forms of energy extraction that had been prohibitively expensive when oil was trading at $60 a barrel suddenly became eminently profitable. Capital poured into America’s shale industry. Thus, the supply of fossil fuel on global markets rapidly increased. At the same time, slowing global growth combined with advances in energy efficiency lowered global energy demand.

Traditionally, OPEC would have responded to such conditions by trying to stabilize global prices by pumping less oil. But Saudi Arabia saw opportunity in a sustained energy glut.

As a conventional oil producer, Saudi Aramco had a much lower break-even price than America’s shale drillers. And as a sovereign government with a foreign-currency reserve worth $750 billion, the Saudis could afford to sell energy at a loss for a lot longer than private firms in the Permian basin. Thus, by keeping the taps on and allowing global energy prices to crash, the House of Saud could reclaim the global market share that frackers had so rudely wrestled from it.

As a result, the price of oil plunged by 70 percent between mid-2014 and early 2016.

All this had two lasting consequences for global energy markets that are integral to today’s crisis. First, investors’ appetite for new oil and gas production collapsed. Global capital craves steady returns, not 70 percent price swings.

Long-term shareholders in fossil-fuel firms pressured managers to cut back investment in favor of dividends. Many such shareholders had sustained heavy losses during the crash, and therefore refused to sanction risky new projects until they recouped their initial investments.

Second, the combination of advances in fracking technology and a glutted energy market made natural gas unprecedentedly abundant and cost-competitive with coal. Utilities therefore started replacing coal-fired power plants with gas-fired ones, and the global electricity system became newly reliant on natural gas.


NY Magazine

The sustained efforts of activists to defund fossil fuel companies, coupled with the investment community’s demands to “to cut back investment in favor of dividends” have caused the inability to ramp up production fast enough to keep up with surging demand. And this is why we suddenly have a synthetic fertilizer crisis…

Nitrogen fertilizer shortage threatens to cut global crop yields -CF Industries
By Rod Nickel

November 4, 2021

Nov 4 (Reuters) – A shortage of nitrogen fertilizer due to soaring natural gas prices is threatening to reduce global crop yields next year, CF Industries, a major producer of the crop nutrient, said on Thursday.

European gas prices have jumped amid high demand, as economies recover from the pandemic and with below-average gas storage levels at the start of the winter heating season. Natural gas is a key input in the production of nitrogen-based fertilizers and higher costs have caused some producers to cut production.



“European gas prices have jumped”… In Three Easy Charts

US Natural Gas Production, Consumption and Proved Reserves.
Europe Natural Gas Production, Consumption and Proved Reserves.
Natural gas prices: Global LNG (blue), US Henry Hub (red).

The wholesale destruction of our coal-fired power plant infrastructure and an unjustified fear of nuclear power, coupled with the low capacity factors of wind and solar power has made the world increasingly reliant on natural gas for power generations. Efforts to defund the oil & gas industry and the investment community’s demands that we focus on investor returns rather than growth, while also reducing the carbon intensity of our operations have driven natural gas prices through the roof in areas of the world dependent on imported LNG. This has left us in a situation where many nations will have to choose between freezing in the dark this winter or facing food shortages come spring.

Norman Borlaug is probably rolling over in his grave right now.

Any questions?


Erisman, J. W., Sutton, M. A., Galloway, J., Klimont, Z. & Winiwarter, W. How a century of ammonia synthesis changed the world. Nat. Geosci.1,636–639 (2008)

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John Tillman
December 10, 2021 6:10 am

Another back to the future moment, brought to you by acolytes of the Great God CACA!

As in ancient Rome, we can all save our urine in jars to sell to fullers, or in this case, farm chemical companies.

John Hultquist
Reply to  John Tillman
December 10, 2021 9:18 am

Just pee in your own (Victory) garden.

Reply to  John Tillman
December 10, 2021 12:27 pm

I wonder if urea could be profitably processed from waste water at treatment plants?

Tom Halla
December 10, 2021 6:13 am

Saule, not Saul Omarovna. But the issue was that His Senility would attempt to appoint her, not her views per se.

John Tillman
Reply to  Tom Halla
December 10, 2021 6:20 am

Her views are why His Flatulence should never have appointed her.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  John Tillman
December 10, 2021 10:14 am

Dementia Joe just did as he was told when Comrade Omarova’s comptroller nomination paperwork was put in front of him to sign by his CoS Ron Klain. His Flatulence isn’t in charge of anything. A reality Biden regularly admits to when he starts to take reporters questions and then says (out loud) that he’s not supposed to and that he’ll get in trouble.

Reply to  Tom Halla
December 10, 2021 12:27 pm

Well, she’s withdrawn, so we have that.

Steve Case
December 10, 2021 6:15 am

A shortage of nitrogen fertilizer due to soaring natural gas prices is threatening to reduce global crop yields next year… 

If that happens it will be blamed on “Climate Change”

Joe Wagner
Reply to  Steve Case
December 10, 2021 6:36 am

Of course it will. Every other problem is blamed on it now..

CO2.. Theres nothing it can’t do!

Reply to  Joe Wagner
December 10, 2021 1:19 pm

CO2.. Theres nothing it can’t do!
Lips will be blue
in 2022

Reply to  Steve Case
December 10, 2021 9:58 am

Wow in previous article about Brazil I posted

“those net zero fools who want to put a stop to fossil fuels need to be pressed to address what to replace it with to prevent catastrophic crop declines!”

I did not realize that we are already hitting the wall!

Reply to  Steve Case
December 10, 2021 10:52 am

A worldwide shortage of nitrogen fertilizer is guaranteed to reduce global crop yields.

It isn’t a threat. It’s reality.

Reply to  Steve Case
December 10, 2021 12:29 pm

Since the soaring price of natural gas was caused by the morons who are trying to fix “climate change’, you could make the argument that “climate change” is related to the urea shortage.

David A
Reply to  MarkW
December 12, 2021 9:02 am

If you add in the word, :alarmists: I agree.

Bruce Cobb
December 10, 2021 6:25 am

Has this been approved by noted author I. P. Daly?

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  David Middleton
December 10, 2021 8:39 am

You know, I saw that coming 2/3 of the way through and still couldn’t get out of the way in time!

Reply to  David Middleton
December 10, 2021 12:31 pm

Did you hear that Federal Express and United Parcel Service were going to merge?
The new company will be called Fed UPS.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
December 10, 2021 8:42 am

His finest novel was Yellow River”, a great read, or should that be a great weed!!!!!

David Kamakaris
Reply to  Alan the Brit
December 10, 2021 9:09 am

Don’t forget the sequel,
“Rusty Bedsprings” by I.P. Nightly.

Reply to  Alan the Brit
December 13, 2021 6:40 am

Wrong! Yellow River was written by I. P. Strong.

Ron Long
December 10, 2021 6:32 am

What a pi$$er of a story. The whole CAGW nonsense just gets more stupid every day.

Reply to  Ron Long
December 10, 2021 9:45 am

The whole CAGW nonsense just gets more stupid every day.

From your logical perspective, yes you are correct.
From their perspective and their ultimate goal, it makes great sense.
And it’s working for them.

Listen to this guy, and take him seriously on the topic of Covid and the remedy control manipulation.

Climate change, Covid, same agenda.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ozonebust
Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Ozonebust
December 10, 2021 10:28 am

Both are are about control and ending Western-style capitalism, the economic system that has created an affluent middle-class that drives our Democracies by people demanding their rights are secure against a central government.

The basic formula for both the COVID manipulations and the climate scam:

Eliminate the tenets of capitalism –> gets rid of the affluent middle class (and its discretionary consumption) –> eliminates democracy –> supplants with welfare feudalism –> imposes authoritarian socialism in now a 2 class Western societies.

Ron Long
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 10, 2021 12:41 pm

Re capitalism and middle class, before Fidel (BF) Cuba had the largest middle class in Latin America, after Fidel (AF) they had disappeared the middle class. Now (Let’s Go Brandon) the middle class is the enemy everywhere. Middle class basically means persons working to get ahead and take care of their families themselves.

Dr. Bob
December 10, 2021 7:08 am

Can DEF be considered “Food For Fuel”? DEF is used to reduce NOx to N2 in the exhaust aftertreatment system of modern diesel engines. The NOx emissions level has been reduced to such a low level that the air coming into a diesel engine is now cleaner than the air ingested by the engine. At least in LA and other urban areas.
Environmental and Social Justice efforts have tried to tie exhaust emissions to health issues for decades resulting in every tightening emissions standards that add cost to vehicles and reduce fuel efficiency. DEF is a savior of the diesel engine as it acts as a reductant for NOx in the catalyst system but creates a demand for urea as well.
So there comes a point where reducing engine emissions becomes counterproductive. I believe we have reached that point, but there are still even lower emissions standards being imposed in the coming years that will further reduce efficiency of ICE’s.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Dr. Bob
December 10, 2021 10:22 am

DEF is the reason I won’t buy a diesel truck. Just another headache to increase the cost of operating a vehicle. I still have my Dad’s 2003 diesel 2500 Dodge Ram, it’s pre-DEF and runs great and gets better fuel mileage than DEF trucks.

J P Kalishek
Reply to  Dr. Bob
December 11, 2021 4:26 am

I was gonna reply about this too. . . the two ways for passing the silly emissions on diesels seems to be either filter and bake off the particulate, which seemed to be an easily broken method, and DEF that injects a version of Urea into the exhaust.
On the other hand, Urea is also used in other non-food related things like Fire Fighting Foam, especially for low temperature storage

December 10, 2021 7:15 am

Note the quote: CAGW Scam – Told you so in 2002. $Trillions, LIvesMIllions, Wasted.

December 10, 2021 Cap Allon

Professor Martin Keeley: “Global warming is indeed a scam, perpetrated by scientists with vested interests, but in need of crash courses in geology, logic and the philosophy of science. It provides the media with a new scare story, which has been picked up by the focus groups and turned into the new religion, offering us hell if we don’t all change our ways.”

Joao Martins
December 10, 2021 7:31 am

A common problem of environmentalists… lack of phosphorus and excess organic matter (inside their skulls, of course…)

December 10, 2021 8:03 am

Digger Mansions was on top of this problem before it became a climate emergency.

We have grandkids who love playing in our gardens.
We also have a line of compost bins.
And we have a chamber pot purchased very cheaply from a second hand shop.
And bushes.

Grandkids love using the pot, which means Digger Mansions compost is nitrate rich. Yum yum…_

Peta of Newark
December 10, 2021 8:12 am

UK is doing its bit – farmers here are soon to be banned from using it.

Seemingly when farmers spread it upon their fields, it decomposes into Ammonia, floats up into the sky and “Lays Waste To The Climate”
And this is despite it being, as seen inside a ferty spreader, an insane head splitting colour of Fluorescent Day-Glo green.

I enquired of the peasant at the time of this discovery, wondering if it was in case he accidentally misplaced the stuff and might then easily re-locate the errant pile of substance.
No it seems, farmers are not actually that dumb – the green was ‘something’ required, by UK Legal Law, to be added to it exactly to stop it turning into Ammonia at inopportune moments.

The wizened and increasingly depressed amongst us wonder if there is anything left on this Earth that doesn’t waste the climate

Wonders what any passing Sputnik made of that green colour should it fall into view (what doesn’t) – do Sputniks get migraine?

December 10, 2021 8:13 am

Nothing to do with CO2, it’s natural variability. As every school kid knows in the middle of the LIA Hamlet contemplates: “To pe, or not to pe, that is the question”

December 10, 2021 8:24 am

Dave ==> Nicely done! There are just so many down-side domino effects appearing as the rabid eco-nuts and Climate Hysterics influence government and financial institutions.

Heaven help us….

December 10, 2021 8:30 am

Just one more example of ignorant politicians consulting climate activists and phony climate “scientists.” Many years ago, politicians used to consult people educated and experienced in the field being studied in order to come up with regulations that made sense and were beneficial. Not any more. We need regulations to control politicians.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Dan
December 10, 2021 8:49 am

“We need regulations to control politicians.”

True, but they need regulations to control the peasants!!! It’s a two way street/double-edged sword!!!

Peta of Newark
December 10, 2021 8:47 am

I also meant to say:
An Absolutely Perfect Task for windmills and even sunshine panels would be be set them up as devices to oxidise Nitrogen.

Fit them with an epic sized discharge tube and run ‘atmosphere’ through it.
To harvest the bounty, simply bubble the output of The Tube through water

You’ll get a crazy randomised mix of Nitrous and Nitric acids but as far as soil bacteria and plants go, it is absolute Nectar.
They will love it, unless you make it ultra strong. Dilute it down and dribble onto the dirt/soil.
Or, even better, neutralise it with Calcium or Magnesium.
And do consider, 75% of US subjects are deficient in Magnesium and if you run out of same, you die. (But before that you go crazy – check out Grass Staggers in cows)

IOW. There is perfectly No Need to go through the rigmarole of making Ammonia, Nitrate or Urea.

And because the need for Nitrogen fert is seasonal, the windmills can churn away as and when they want – all you need is some large ish tanks to keep the stuff in until needed.
Consider such as Chemical Battery if you like = storing the renewable energy very efficiently for as long as you like – right across the seasons in fact.
Saves all those grid connections & inverters, copper wires, subsidy payments, interconnectors & transmission lines, blackouts, price rises and General All Round Grief

again: KISS

Reply to  Peta of Newark
December 10, 2021 11:10 am

Such a discharge would also make high levels of ozone. It might be an idea worth considering, but unless you’re an idiot politician, you don’t throw away a century or more of working agricultural knowledge.

Master of the Obvious
Reply to  Peta of Newark
December 10, 2021 9:02 pm

The energy efficiency is very poor. Diesel engines perform oxidation of N2 to NOx due to the high temperatures but the yield is only ppm levels of NOx (despite the combustion air being 79% N2). Thus, you need to heat cubic miles of nitrogen to make pounds of NO2 and eventually to NO3.

The genius of Harber Bosche is the N2 is catalytically reduced (via hydrogen syngas) to make ammonia. If you want nitrate fertilizer, one then oxidizes the ammonia to NOx which is exothermic, and not highly endothermic, with both high conversion and yield. Or, the ammonia is converted to a fertilizer salt by reaction with an acid.

Green ammonia is envisioned by hydrolysis of water to make hydrogen. That hydrogen can then be processed into ammonia. The carbon emissions from Harber Bosche come from the gas-fired reforming of methane to hydrogen. CO2 is produced from both firing the reformer and the carbon left over from reaction to hydrogen.

Renewable electricity is expensive. Hydrolysis of water is energy inefficient. Not a good combo.

James F. Evans
December 10, 2021 9:02 am

It’s obvious, we need an industrial piss factory… Oops, I forgot, we already have one in Washington D.C.

December 10, 2021 9:29 am

Thank Mark Carney as well.⁷

Joel O'Bryan
December 10, 2021 10:09 am

China needs to mine more guano from its bat caves…. oh wait.

December 10, 2021 10:28 am

Evil people doing evil things the poor just have to stay poor so the “climate guardians” can feel good about themselves there is no other reason than that.

Kevin kilty
December 10, 2021 11:17 am

Natural gas reformed to hydrogen and CO2 –> the CO2 is an essential byproduct and commodity in its own right.

Hydrogen thus formed –> Ammonia. The ammonia is a commodity that can’t be produced in any other way that is cost competitive with natural gas.

Ammonia –> urea (fertilizer grade), urea (feed grade), nitric acid, ammonium nitrate

high denisity ammonium nitrate + fuel oil — > cratering charge for blasting on contstruction projects and open-pit mines.

low density ammonium nitrate –> fertilizer.

nitric acid — > broad range of exposives, gun powders, leaching agent to remove iron and other metals from plastic/glass bottles, purification of noble metals, manufacture of plastics, pharmaceuticals, topical agent to remove warts/blemishes, pH control, lab reagent, etchants, varnishes, liquid rocket fuels.

December 10, 2021 2:34 pm

it is amazing how well thought out the destruction of Western civilization is.

December 10, 2021 5:08 pm

You should know that the Rich Earth Institute is working very hard on recycling human urine for fertilizer. These guys are serious.×374.jpg

December 10, 2021 6:18 pm

Haber process?
I thought the more modern system used natural gas to produce the NH4NO3 and CH4N2O and provided the energy to do so as well.

Last edited 1 year ago by Duker
michael hart
December 10, 2021 8:56 pm

Well, we’ve been force-fed BS by the global warming industry for some time now. Given the apparently infinite supply, I don’t see why we shouldn’t use it as fertiliser too.

Alexander Vissers
December 12, 2021 11:03 am

Natural gas has become abundant following the fracking revolution and at the same time a political playground with the USA and Russia competing to supply Europe. The same goes for Oil since the assessment of recoveable reserves in the Delaware basin and Venezuelan recoverable reserves so investors are reluctand to prospect and produce high cost oil and gas uncertain about future prices. Mind that the price surge reflects spot prices and most gas is sold at long term contract prices.

December 12, 2021 6:50 pm

The elephant in the room
Urea shortage = no “addblue”
all modern tractors, trucks etc require addblue to control NOX and they dont work without it

In Australia our mining, agriculture and road transport are predicted to run out of addblue between January and February 2022

So wouldnt you expect this to be on the news

Not a sound from our stupid media of this critical event

No the fires at Margret River created by the “we dont want fuel reduction fire control groupies” are the main message along with Omicron

oh well get use to no food on the supermarket shelves

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