Barge rates increase on low river Rhine water levels

21 August 2012 17:08  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Low water levels in the river Rhine in Germany have led ship owners and charterers to achieve higher freight rates on barge journeys, sources said on Tuesday.

Continued hot weather across Europe has seen water levels on the Rhine drop; impacting the amount cargo barges can carry when transiting the river, with some larger vessels unable to transport product at their full capacity.

Water levels are particularly low at destinations located in the mid and upper part of the Rhine.

“On current water levels, a 3,000 tonne barge is able to take around 39% to 44% of its capacity to the upper Rhine destinations,” one broker said.

With barge owners not fully utilising their capacities and bunker fuel costs remaining at high levels, another broker said that; “charterers and owners continue to push for higher rates to recoup on losses made on these inefficient journeys.”

“Many have achieved success in gaining higher rates,” he added.

According to data from the German waterways authority, levels in Kaub, western Germany, are down 155cm from a week ago at 124 cm. In Koblenz, north of Kaub, levels were at 123cm, down 146cm from a week ago.

With rainfall forecasts in the region lower than expected for this time of year, sources expect rates to increase further as water levels continue to fall.

Last week, sources in the methanol market said transport barges on the river Rhine had been forced to reduce their loads along certain stretches because of low water levels, caused by recent warm weather and a lack of rain.

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

Additional reporting by Ross Yeo

By: Neha Popat
+44 208 652 3214

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