River Rhine water level drops to record May low

11 May 2011 16:11  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Petrochemical companies which use the river Rhine in Germany to transport material are at risk of logistics problems as water levels fall to record lows, a German shipping official said on Wednesday.

According to Florian Krekel, a spokesman for river authority Wasser- und Schifffahrtsamt Bingen, water levels on the Rhine are the lowest ever measured for the month of May.

“We have an extremely dry springtime this year – it is unusual,” Krekel said.

Petrochemical companies may not have seen the worst yet, however, as Krekel added: “We expect water levels to drop further.”

Krekel said the water level in the Rhine was recorded at 71cm at Kaub, south of Koblenz in western Germany.

“We have seen lower water levels but usually in autumn. The lowest water level we had ever was 35cm in August/September 2003,” he added.

Krekel added that larger ships are currently unable to carry product at full capacity, with some unable to carry half their usual load limit.

“The efficiency of the transport is decreasing. The specific costs per tonne are rising,” he said.

“We still have a lot of traffic but we will see what happens with further dropping water levels,” Krekel added.

The Rhine is an important European shipping route for chemicals and other commodities, including minerals, coal and oil products.

Click here to see the most up-to-date water levels on the river Rhine

By: Franco Capaldo
+44 (0)20 8652 3214

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