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Rhine River German Leg Shut as High Water Halts Shipping

A section of the Rhine River in Germany has been shut after water levels increased, cutting off barge shipments to Switzerland from the Rotterdam trading hub.

Europe’s busiest inland waterway closed late yesterday between Germersheim and Iffezheim, Thomas May, an official at the Wasserschutzpolizei, said today by phone from Karlsruhe, where the 310,000 barrel-a-day Miro refinery is located. That part of the river is used to transport commodities including coal, scrap metal and oil products. Water levels are forecast to continue to rise, May said.

At Kaub, 40 miles (64 kilometers) west of Frankfurt, the barge clearance level was 5.19 meters as of 1:34 p.m. local time, data compiled by Bloomberg showed. That was the highest since January 2011. Rhine water level in Rheinfelden, Germany, near the Swiss border rose to 7.54 meters yesterday, the highest since June 14.

“The high water levels of the Rhine will slow barge shipments out of Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp and should lead to heating oil starting to pile up,” Olivier Jakob, managing director of Switzerland-based researcher Petromatrix GmbH, said in a note today.

Germany is Europe’s largest heating oil market. Barges of the fuel traded at discounts of $2 to $4 a ton to January gasoil on the ICE Futures Europe exchange yesterday.

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