Low water levels caused by recent dry weather are preventing cargo ships from sailing fully loaded on Germany’s Rhine river, resulting in surcharges being added to freight rates. Traders have reported that navigation is difficult on most of the river south of Duisburg and Cologne, including the Kaub dam. Some ships can only pass through Kaub with around 50% of their load due to the shallow water. Ship operators are adding surcharges to compensate for the ships not being fully loaded, which increases costs for cargo owners. Traders do not expect immediate improvement as dry weather is forecasted in the coming days.
The low water levels on the Rhine have disrupted the transportation of raw materials such as grain, minerals, ores, coal, and petroleum products. In the summer of 2022, German companies faced supply bottlenecks and production problems due to a drought and heat wave that led to unusually low water levels on the Rhine. This situation highlights the vulnerability of Germany’s important shipping route and the impact of climate-related factors on the economy.
The added surcharges on freight rates due to the low water levels further burden cargo owners and contribute to increased transportation costs. As the dry weather is expected to continue, the challenges faced by cargo ships on the Rhine may persist. It remains to be seen how long this situation will last and what measures will be taken to mitigate the effects on the transportation of goods along the river.