Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Germany: Rhine river may fall to critical levels

Cologne, Germany ( Associated Press) — The waters of the Rhine River could drop to critically low levels in the coming days, German officials said on Wednesday, amid a drought and an energy crisis making it difficult to transport goods, including coal and gasoline. Europe.

After weeks of dry weather, some of Europe’s major waterways have turned into gullies, causing a headache for German factories and power plants, which rely on ship delivery of supplies, raising the prospect of a recession. financial. According to Capital Economics, inland waterway freight transport is more important in Germany than in many other Western European countries.

“This is particularly the case for the Rhine, whose sea level in the Kaab is too low in the sea center, but navigable to shallow-draft vessels,” said Tim Alexandrin, a spokesman for Germany’s transport ministry.

Officials predict that the water level in Kab will drop below the 40 cm (16 in) mark by early Friday and will continue to fall through the weekend. Although this level remains higher than the record low of 27 cm since October 2018, many large vessels may find it difficult to cross the river at the site, which lies between Koblenz and Mainz on the Rhine.

“The situation is very dramatic but still not as dramatic as in 2018,” said Christian Lorenz, a spokesman for German logistics company HGK.

From France and Italy, Europe faces difficulties due to periods of drought, low flows in waterways and heat waves that are becoming more severe and frequent due to climate change. Low water levels are another blow to industry in Germany, which is struggling because of dwindling natural gas supplies, driving up prices.

Because of the lack of water, ships transporting salt on the Rhine River from Heilbronn to Cologne, which normally carried a load of 2,200 tonnes, could now carry only 600 tonnes, he said.

“Of course we hope that river transport will not come to a standstill, but in 2018 we saw when the water level was too low, gas stations suddenly ran out of fuel because boats could not navigate,” Lorenz said.

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Jordan reported from Berlin.

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