28. ISN'T FERTILIZER MADE FROM CRUDE OIL?
ANSWER: No. Oil is not used in the production of fertilizer. The macronutrients required by plants are N (Nitrogen), K (Potassium) and P (Phosphorus). Oil is hydrocarbon, made from H (Hydrogen) and C (Carbon). There are no plant nutrients in oil.
Nitrogen fertilizer (N) is made from ammonia, which in turn is manufactured from natural gas, not oil. Natural gas is not peaking, but when it does, fertilizer can be produced from coal, as is done in China today:
For economic and environmental reasons, today natural gas is the feedstock of choice. The use of natural gas is accelerating rapidly, because of economic factors but also and increasingly due to environmental pressures, which work against other fossil fuels. Natural gas is expected to account for about one third of global energy use in 2020, compared with only one fifth in the mid-1990s. However, processes for ammonia production can use a wide range of energy sources. Thus, even when oil and gas supplies eventually dwindle, very large reserves of coal are likely to remain. Coal reserves are sufficient for well over 200 years at current production levels, and their location is geographically diverse. 60% of China's nitrogen fertilizer production is currently based on coal. Source*
Even when coal runs out, there will still be plenty of ammonia available because vast quantities of it are produced daily in the form of human and animal urine (which, ideally, we should be using for fertilizer right now).
Finally, potassium (K) comes from potash, and phosphorus (P) comes from phosphate. Both are mined minerals in plentiful supply.
PEAK OIL POSES NO THREAT WHATSOEVER TO THE SUPPLY OF FERTILIZER
For more information on peak oil and fertilizer, please see:
314. PEAK OIL AND FERTILIZER: NO PROBLEM and
321. PEAK PHOSPHORUS? HIT THE SNOOZE BUTTON