Shipping Halted On Rhine Near Kaub Chokepoint Due To Distressed Barge Blocking Waterway

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Aug 17, 2022 - 12:25 PM

The Rhine Waterways and Shipping Authority (WSA) said a vessel was blocking the Rhine River south of Cologne, Germany, on Wednesday after an engine issue caused it to run aground.

A section of Europe's most important inland waterway for transporting fuel and other industrial goods, between St. Goar and Oberwesel, was closed, according to WSA. 

Bloomberg noted the affected vessel comprised of four parts, which must be independently towed away, and the stretch of the river may reopen sometime today. 

An alleged video on social media shows the distressed vessel being pulled aside. Also, the dangerously low water levels at this part of the river are pretty noticeable. 

The incident occurred near the closely watched Kaub chokepoint that is currently registering a depth of 34 centimeters (13.4 inches). Earlier this week, Kaub fell to 30 centimeters (11.8 inches), and below 40 centimeters (15.7 inches), many shippers find it uneconomical to operate barges past Kaub. 

Despite today's incident blocking the part of the Rhine and shallow water levels that have made Kaub impassible for some barges (or at least restrict cargo weight on vessels to improve draft), the water level at the critical German waypoint is set to rise to 41 centimeters (16.1 inches) by Saturday, offering some relief to shippers. By Sunday, water levels could be as high as 49 centimeters (19.3 inches). 

Disruptions on the Rhine are bad news for Germany and the millions of tons of commodities and other goods shipped through inland Europe amid the worst energy crisis in decades.