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Rhine River Withers to Crisis Level as Europe Craves Energy

  • Shallow water to effectively halt barges at German waypoint
  • Climate crisis exacerbates European energy supply crunch
Visitors walk along exposed rock on the shoreline of the River Rhine near Pfalzgrafenstein castle in Kaub, Germany, on Aug. 4.

Visitors walk along exposed rock on the shoreline of the River Rhine near Pfalzgrafenstein castle in Kaub, Germany, on Aug. 4.

Photographer: Ben Kilb/Bloomberg
Updated on

The Rhine River is set to become virtually impassable at a key waypoint in Germany, as shallow water chokes off shipments of energy products and other industrial commodities along one of Europe’s most important waterways.

The marker at Kaub, west of Frankfurt, is forecast to drop to the critical depth of 40 centimeters (just under 16 inches) early on Aug. 12, according to the German Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration. At that level, most barges that haul goods from diesel to coal are effectively unable to transit the river. It’s set to continue dropping, to 37 centimeters the following day.