London — Shipping on the Rhine river has been hampered for several weeks by low water levels which are now set to fall to 53 centimeters at key chokepoint Kaub Friday, the lowest since January 2017, Rhine river authority WSV forecast Monday.
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On Monday midday local time 75 cm were recorded. Levels haven't been above 118 cm since the start of August resulting in additional transport costs. Premium payments typically apply from 140 cm and below at Kaub, operators said earlier.
Reduced barge loadings not only result in higher transport premiums, raising hard coal delivery costs but also slowing down deliveries to some power plants in Germany. Utilities RWE and EnBW said on their transparency websites (August 8 and August 10, respectively) supply has been restricted to some of their hard coal plants and have held the market notice up for over a month now.
Low rain and an extended heat wave caused the Rhine to drop to its lowest since January 2017, when 51 cm were registered at Kaub. Before that the lowest was 48 cm on November 30, 2011, according to historical WSV data.
In August, when transport on the Rhine has already been heavily affected, a barge operator said that a 15-year low could be reached this September.
High pressure over Germany is extending its run at the start of autumn with temperatures 5-9 degrees Celsius above seasonal norms until Thursday, CustomWeather data showed.
Low water flows on other rivers in Germany are causing production cuts, with EnBW saying 221 MW would be unavailable until Tuesday at hard coal plant Altbach/Dezisau 2 due to low water flows on the Neckar.
-- Inga Freund, Inga.Freund@spglobal.com
-- Edited by Jonathan Dart, firstname.lastname@example.org