Vacancies warning Lower Rhine level makes fuel more expensive

4 mins read

The level of the Rhine is falling continuously, yet Germany’s largest waterway is important for energy supply. In view of the current dry spell, the petroleum industry is warning of a bottleneck. Drivers could soon feel the effects at the pumps. website:: The drought is causing massive problems for German inland shipping. Because the level of the Rhine and other rivers is currently low, shipping companies are only able to fill half of their ships. With more cargo, the ships would be too low in the water. This puts a strain on the supply to the filling stations, threatening a domino effect.

“Ships can no longer sail with a full load, so initially freight costs rise and later ship freight has to be replaced by truck transport,” explains the managing director of the Central Association of the Service Station Industry, Jürgen Ziegner. “This can ultimately lead to vacancies at service stations because not enough trucks are available to supply service stations,” he tells

Ziegner refers to the drought year 2018, when the Rhine level was below 20 centimeters in places in October. Even then, some gas stations in North Rhine-Westphalia temporarily ran out of fuel. The cost of such an additional load is ultimately borne by consumers. “In November 2018, fuel prices in southern Germany, which was affected by the low water level of the Rhine, were 20 cents per liter higher than in northern Germany due to skyrocketing transport costs,” said the industry representative. This time, too, there is a threat of a price increase, he added.

“Supply is more demanding”

The Fuels and Energy lobby association, which represents major oil companies such as Total, Shell and BP, is also concerned about the current low water. “Our member companies can still serve all transports, but supply has become more challenging,” press spokesman Alexander von Gersdorff tells “We continue to monitor the situation closely.” According to the Federation of German Industries (BDI), however, the situation could quickly come to a head. “Initial water levels in the Rhine are already below the level of the extreme low water year 2018,” warns the BDI.

The Rhine is Europe’s most important waterway and links major business locations such as Basel, Ludwigshafen, Duisburg and Rotterdam. It is particularly important for energy supply in western and southern Germany, as it serves as a transport route for important refineries. Germany’s largest, the Energy and Chemicals Park Rheinland in Cologne, is located directly on the banks of the river.

Meanwhile, the Rhine level threatens to drop further, with no major rainfall in sight over the next few days. The measured value at the critical point Kaub between Mainz and Koblenz was 67 centimeters in the afternoon. Above a level of 40 centimeters, it is no longer possible for inland waterway vessels to pass through there.


Salih Demir

Salih Demir lives in Germany. He is interested in politics and economy. Germany editor of -ancient idea-

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