A broken barge blocks the Rhine, already difficult to navigate due to lack of water

To compensate for the lack of Russian gas, the traffic on the river had increased for the transport of coal. The cessation of activities would be a new headache for Germany.

A broken down barge blocked the Rhine in western Germany on Wednesday at a crucial point for river navigation, already complicated due to lack of water, authorities said. Traffic on the section between St Goar and Oberwesel, located between the cities of Mainz and Koblenz, should resume during the day, according to the river police.

The barge is stranded not far from Kaub, the bottleneck of the Rhine for river transport and where the reference depth gauge is located. With a level below the critical threshold of 40cm since last week, river navigation is increasingly complicated due to the drought of recent weeks.

A busy river

If the level on the gauge does not correspond to the actual depth of the river, it reflects its navigability: the lower the level, the less the barges can load, reducing transport capacities, particularly of hydrocarbons — until the transport becomes completely impossible.

The prospect of a partial stoppage of traffic on this river, one of the busiest in the world, constitutes a new headache for German industry, already tested by the Russian gas crisis and the surge in energy prices in the process. of the war in Ukraine. About 4% of freight is transported by sea in Germany, including on the Rhine which originates in Switzerland to cross several countries including France and Germany before flowing into the sea in the Netherlands.

The river has regained importance in recent months because, to reduce its dependence on Russian gas in particular, Germany wants to turn more to coal. However, the large power plants are mainly located around the Rhine, a key river for their supply.

SEE ALSO – Drought: in the North, unprecedented restrictions and thirsty potatoes


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