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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Heat and drought: half-loaded barges


Status: 07/20/2022 09:59

Freighters on the Rhine, Danube and other rivers in Germany can only be loaded to 50%. This makes goods more expensive and makes it difficult to transport important goods such as coal and grain.

The persistent drought and the resulting low waters have exacerbated the capacity bottlenecks of German inland navigation. Due to high temperatures and lack of rain, the water levels of the Danube, Rhine and other rivers in Germany have dropped massively.

Cargo needs to be distributed to more ships

“We are only allowed to transport around 50% of the amount we could transport,” said board member of the German Transport Cooperative for Inland Waterways, Roberto Spranzi, of the agency. dpa press in Duisburg. Due to the smaller amount of cargo, the ships are lighter and shallower in the water.

Experts such as Jens Schwanen, Managing Director of the Federal Association of German Inland Navigation (BDB), speak of a “small water situation”. For maritime transport, little water means that the cargo has to be distributed among several ships. But they are hard to find.

Ships for transporting coal in demand

The capacity bottlenecks come at an inopportune time for the German economy, as demand is high: after all, coal-fired power plants are ramping up again across Germany in order to generate electricity from coal in times of gas shortage.

Inland navigation plays an important role in the transport of coal. But coal, like chemicals and gravel, is among the heavy cargoes that push ships particularly deep.

Grain transport from Ukraine via the Danube

In addition, some of the inland vessels that usually navigate German rivers are currently involved in the transport of Ukrainian grain to Europe. Grain transport from Ukraine to the European Union is possible via the Danube, for example. “It has significantly reduced the freight capacity in this country,” says Spranzi, whose cooperative has more than 100 ships.

The Federal Association of German Inland Shipping (BDB), also based in Duisburg, speaks of an “extremely high demand for shipping space”, for example for coal, containers and grain.

The goods become more expensive due to the “little extra water”.

If barges are allowed to load less cargo than they can handle, they are usually not paid much less. “The lower flow rate is compensated by the so-called small water surcharge,” says industry representative Spranzi.

This surcharge is due to certain water levels – “and that more than makes up for the loss”, he says. “For corporate customers, this means: they receive less goods and they are more expensive.”


Source www.tagesschau.de

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