Rhine sinks below 40 centimeters in Kaub

4 mins read

The low water level from the Rhine is making it increasingly difficult to supply goods, further impairing the energy supply. In Kaub, the Rhine has now fallen below the critical mark of 40 centimeters.

The Rhine fell below the critical mark of 40 centimeters at the Kauber gauge on Friday, reaching a new low. The low water is making it increasingly difficult to supply goods, some of which have become more important because of the simultaneous energy crisis.

At the measuring point in Kaub near Koblenz, the level is expected to continue to fall in the coming days, according to the Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration. Below the level of 40 centimeters, it is no longer economical for many barges to navigate the river.

The water shortage is exacerbating energy supply bottlenecks that are burdening industry and consumers as a result of the Russian-Ukrainian war. Some power plants and industrial companies are relying on coal, which is transported across the Rhine, instead of Russian gas, which has become scarce. Chemicals, grain and paper products also travel on the river.

Transport of goods impaired

Chemical company BASF SE has already booked special shallow-water ships because of the shallow water and is relying more on rail to transport goods. Although there is currently no impact, the company says it cannot rule out that production volumes at some plants will be reduced in the coming weeks.

Energy supplier Uniper SE said Thursday it would not be able to get enough coal delivered by rail to run its power plants at full capacity for an extended period. Uniper had previously announced it would have to curtail the Staudinger-5 power plant until into September due to a shortage of coal. At steel producer thyssenkrupp AG a crisis team is discussing the situation on a daily basis. To secure supplies to its Duisburg plant, Thyssen is also using shallower-draft ships.

Contargo switches to land transportation

Logistics service provider Contargo expects to have to suspend its inland shipping operations on the Upper and Middle Rhine in the next few days due to the continuing drought. If the water level at Kaub falls below 40 centimeters as expected from the weekend onwards, it will no longer be possible for inland waterway vessels to pass without danger, the Duisburg-based company announced on Friday. Operations on the Upper and Middle Rhine would therefore be largely suspended in this case for safety reasons. The shipping fleet on the Lower Rhine is to receive containers from the Middle Rhine via a land bridge by truck – but transport capacities by land are limited.

In shallow water, barges cannot take their full capacity on board. It happens all the time, but at 39 centimeters, the Kauber gauge is at its lowest level for this time of year since at least 1993, and is expected to drop to 34 centimeters by Tuesday morning. The figure does not indicate the actual depth of the river, but is a measure of its navigability.

According to Facts Global Energy, trade of 400,000 barrels of oil products per day along across the Rhine could be disrupted. This is roughly equivalent to the capacity of Europe’s largest oil refinery.

Salih Demir

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

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