Small vessels sail fully loaded on Rhine in Germany as water rises

08 December 2011 13:20  [Source: ICIS news]

The river RhineLONDON (ICIS)--Small vessels with a maximum draught of about 2.5m can now sail fully-loaded on the German stretch of the River Rhine after water levels rose following rainfall, an official said on Thursday.

The draught is the vertical distance between the waterline and the bottom of the vessel's keel.

Vessels with larger draughts of 3.5-4m, however, must wait until water levels rise further before they can sail on the Rhine, which is an important European shipping route for chemicals and other commodities, including minerals, coal and oil products

"A vessel with a 3.5m of maximum draught needs a water level of 2.5m at the gauging station in Kaub [Germany]. The water level in Kaub is currently about 1.8m," said Florian Krekel, a spokesman for German inland shipping authority Wasser- und Schifffahrtsamt Bingen.

Krekel said the water level has been rising since Sunday and that it will reach the mean annual water level in a few days.

"Lower water levels have ended, the situation is normalising," he added.

Following one of the driest Novembers on record, the low water levels on the River Rhine has been limiting transport and damaging demand in some European refined product barge markets, as well as driving up logistical costs for shippers of chemicals and other commodities.

In the chemical industry, inland river shipping is the preferred method of transport for many hazardous goods, such as methanol, acids, fuels and liquefied gases, according to shipping trade group Bundesverband der Deutschen Binnenschifffahrt (BDB).

In its 2010/11 annual report, BDB said that in 2010, 21.2m tonnes of chemical goods were shipped on Germany’s inland waterways, up by 17.4% year on year from 2009.

Methanol industry participants even feared the low water levels could force an end to shipping on a stretch of the Rhine south of Kaub, near Bingen.

Additional reporting by Stefan Baumgarten


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



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