The cost of shipping fuel along the Rhine river has surged as dropping water levels curb barges’ carrying capacity.
(Bloomberg) — The cost of shipping fuel along the Rhine river has surged as dropping water levels curb barges’ carrying capacity.
The measured water level at the river’s Kaub chokepoint near Frankfurt fell to 67 centimeters (26 inches) earlier on Thursday, the lowest for the time of year since 2018. If the water gets too low, then it becomes uneconomical for many barges to transit this part of the river.
The price for shipping fuel on the river by barge has soared, with the cost of transporting between Karlsruhe — upriver of Kaub — and the Netherlands at €55 a ton, a seven-month high.
See also: Europe’s Most Important Trade Route Is at Risk as Waters Drop
With its source high in the Swiss Alps, the Rhine snakes about 800 miles through the industrial zones of Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands before emptying into the North Sea. It serves as a key conduit for manufacturers such as BASF SE and Thyssenkrupp AG’s steel unit, as well as oil refiners.
The river at Kaub is usually at its shallowest in late fall, historical data show. Still, it’s forecast to deepen again in the coming days, with the measured water level projected to nudge above 90 centimeters on Saturday.
–With assistance from Rachel Graham.
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.