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FT: Europe 'sleep walking' into dependence on Russian fertilizer, producer says

by Nate Ostiller April 30, 2024 1:17 PM 2 min read
Granules of phosphate fertilizer at the PhosAgro-Cherepovets fertilizer plant, operated by PhosAgro PJSC, in Cherepovets, Russia, on Dec. 2, 2021. (Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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Europe is increasingly becoming dependent on Russian fertilizer, as it previously did with Russian energy, said Svein Tore Holsether, the chief executive of fertilizer producer Yara International, in an interview with the Financial Times (FT) published on April 30.

Since the beginning of the full-scale war, Europe has increased its attempts to wean itself from Russian energy. In a significant reversal of decades of energy dependence, the EU has backed a series of sanctions against Russian fossil fuels and reduced its reliance on such exports.  

Holsether warned that Europe is making the same mistake with Russian fertilizers. Eurostat, the EU's statistics agency, said that the import of Russian urea, a typical fertilizer, had doubled from the previous year up to June 2023.

"Fertiliser is the new gas," Holsether said.

"It is a paradox that the aim is to reduce Europe's dependency on Russia, and then now we are sleepwalking into handing over critical food and fertilizing power to Russia."

Russian fertilizer producers have fewer restrictions and lower energy costs than their European counterparts, which has contributed to their increasing share in the European marketplace.

The wide-ranging sanctions against Russian exports have also largely excluded food and fertilizer.

Holsether warned that it would be naive to think that Russia would not use its growing dominance of the fertilizer market, an important precursor for food production, for political purposes.  

US official: Washington aims to halve Russia’s energy profits by 2030
The U.S. seeks to cut Russia’s oil and gas revenue by half by the end of the decade, the Financial Times reported on Dec. 1, citing U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Geoffrey Pyatt.
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