CO2: Why the UK Govt had to subsidise fertiliser production


No sooner had it started, it appears to be almost over. Was this the shortest-lived CO2 ‘crisis’ yet? Or is it?

With the news that the UK Government is set to support US-owned fertiliser giant CF Industries with the operation of its Billingham plant on Teesside – reportedly at a cost of tens of millions of pounds – the end appears nigh for carbon dioxide (CO2) shortages that, if speculative headlines were to be believed, had the potential to ‘cancel Christmas’.

Stories began to emerge and quickly gather pace less than a week ago, when soaring natural gas prices – up 250% since January – forced the hand of CF Industries and the closure of both its Ince (Cheshire) and Billingham fertiliser plants were announced on 16th September.

Against the backdrop of record-high gas prices, margins in ammonia production were squeezed and it became an uncompetitive landscape in fertiliser production. So dire was the situation, CF Industries could give no estimated timeline for operations to resume.

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