Rhine closed to shipping traffic as water levels rise

Source: ICIS News


LONDON (ICIS)--Sections of the River Rhine are closed to shipping with further closures expected, a representative of Germany’s waterways and shipping administration said on Wednesday, as heavy rain swells the key petrochemicals transport route.

A 50km (31 mile) stretch of river between Germersheim and Iffezheim in the southwest of the country is currently closed to shipping, the representative of Germany’s Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration (WSV) said at 13:31 GMT on Wednesday.

The section of the waterway affected is likely to lengthen, with the stretch between Germersheim and Mannheim expected to be closed in the coming night, he added. BASF’s Ludwigshafen verbund complex is located along that stretch of the river.

Certain other sections of the river downstream may yet be closed but this has not been decided at present he added, although any closures are not expected to last long.

Water levels on the river have risen in recent days as a result of repeated rainfall and melted snow from warmer weather.

An aromatics market source on Wednesday noted that barges are not expected to be able to leave the Upper Rhine before Thursday.

An oxo-acohols market source said, "The storm and the river Rhine levels are high so also we hear some logistical problems. [We] hear they will shut down the Rhine for ships from tomorrow or Friday as in Cologne it is reaching this magic 8.3m level, which creates the shutdown

Rhine water levels as of 24 January. Source:  Federal Institute of Hydrology (BfG)

Image at top: A flooded section of the River Rhine at Cologne. Source: Revierfoto/action press/REX/Shutterstock

Additional reporting by Vasiliki Parapouli, Jane Massingham

(Update adds market commentary in seventh paragraph)