26 Aug 2022, 12:56
Hannah Naylor

Coal and oil most important commodities in drought-hit German inland shipping

Clean Energy Wire

Coal and oil were the most important commodities shipped on German waterways, with almost 12 million tonnes each between January and May of this year, said statistical office Destatis. Coal transport from abroad increased by almost a third percent compared to the previous year, likely due to Germany’s efforts to secure alternative fuel supplies in the midst of the gas crisis, Destatis said. The vast majority of goods shipped on Germany’s inland waterways pass along the river Rhine, which has been heavily affected by this year’s drought. Out of a total of 82 million tonnes that were shipped, 71 million tonnes relied on Germany’s most important inland waterway for at least part of their journey – a share of 86 percent.

During this year’s summer drought, water levels in Germany’s most important stream fell to record lows, threatening a collapse of commercial shipping on the Rhine. Ship operators were only allowed to transport about half of their usual capacities. The drought this year coincided with government efforts to increase deliveries of fuels, especially coal, to help ease any energy shortages as a result of low gas imports from Russia. Droughts in previous years also significantly affected inland shipping abilities in Germany. In 2018, when water levels were extremely low, the amount of goods transported along inland waterways fell 11 percent compared to 2017, the office said.

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