IWT masters may only load vessels halfway | Free press

Thanks to the cargo ships on the Rhine, you can see a lot of space on the ship these days. This is because the load is much lighter than usual, which is in some ways the responsibility of Peter.


The drought is severely restricting cargo shipping activities on the Rhine and other rivers in Germany. “We can only transport around 50 percent of the amount we can transport,” said the management of the German inland waterway transport cooperative Roberto Spranzi of DPA in Duisburg.

River levels are currently low. Due to the lower amount of cargo, the ships are lighter and not so deeply submerged. Opportunities are diminished, but demand is high. “We’re fully booked,” says Spranzi. Examples of heavy loads are chemicals, gravel, and raw materials such as coal.

As Germany is relying more and more on coal-fired power plants due to the gas crisis, the demand for coal has increased significantly. Shipowners notice it too. From his point of view, cargo deliveries by ship are still guaranteed. But the situation is tense, especially since there is no significant rainfall. According to one of the assessments, there is no threat of suspension of deliveries – “it will be tight, but the ships will keep going.”

The transport of Ukrainian grain is insufficient

Some of the inland waterway vessels that usually sail on German rivers are currently involved in the transport of Ukrainian grain in Europe. “This has significantly reduced the shipping capacity in the country,” says Spranzi, whose cooperative has more than 100 vessels.

The Federal Association of German Inland Waterways (BDB), also based in Duisburg, speaks of “extremely high demand for shipping space”, for example for coal, containers and grain. This demand is now increasing due to the transportation of grain and the restart of coal-fired power plants. “Therefore, it can happen that not every customer can be served as much as he wishes,” says association manager Jens Schwanen. This leads to “a certain deterioration of the situation, which is already happening due to the low water level”.

If barges are allowed to load less cargo than they can, they usually don’t pay much less. “The lower discharge is compensated by the so-called low water surcharge,” explains industry representative Spranzi. The surcharge is due for certain water levels – “and this largely compensates for the losses,” he says. “For corporate customers, this means: they get less goods and are more expensive.” (dpa)

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