German Costs to Ship by Barge are up Twenty Times and May Soon Be Impossible

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by Mish Shedlock, Mish Talk:

Water levels on the Rhine river may soon be impassible with no good way to get coal to electrical plants. France has its own set of problems.

Rhine Nears Critical Level

Shippers prepare for the worst in Germany as Water Level on the Rhine River is at a Critical Level.
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Shipping companies prepared to halt the transport of goods on the Rhine as water levels in Germany’s biggest river neared a critically low point Saturday.

An ongoing drought affecting much of Europe has lowered rivers such as the Rhine, preventing large ships with heavy loads from passing key waypoints and forcing them to use smaller vessels or to split cargoes into multiple shipments.

At one bottleneck, near the town of Kaub on the Middle Rhine, an official gauge measured the water level at 37 centimeters (14.6 inches) on Saturday afternoon. Big, heavy ships can’t pass if the level falls below 40 centimeters (15.7 inches).

Logistics company Contargo said Friday that it was preparing to halt shipping on the Upper and Middle Rhine for safety reasons and planned to shift some of its cargo onto trucks. Road and rail freight capacity is limited, however.

Companies along the Rhine that rely on ships to receive raw materials and deliver finished goods are expected to face delays and shortages. Coal-fired power plants and gas stations could also see supply shortages, if shipping on the Rhine is halted.

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