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The water level at a key German chokepoint on the Rhine River jumped on Saturday, easing a crisis that’s hampered energy and industrial production this month.
The marker at Kaub — a narrow and shallow waypoint west of Frankfurt — jumped to 47 centimeters by early afternoon on Saturday from 35 centimeters a day earlier, according to the Federal Waterways and Shipping Authority.
At that depth it’s once again economical for many barges to sail through the waypoint carrying cargo. The marker is set to rise sharply from here, to 150 centimeters by Tuesday.
The level is not the actual depth of the water, which can be several feet deeper, but rather a measure of navigability.
An extended period of extremely hot, dry weather has depleted European rivers this summer, disrupting the transportation of goods and energy commodities at a time the region most needs alternative energy sources to gas.
That’s helped drive natural gas prices to record highs, intensifying the inflationary pain for industries and households and threatening to push Germany into recession.
When the measured water level at Kaub drops to 40 centimeters or below, it becomes uneconomical for many barges to haul cargo through the chokepoint.
Shell Plc’s Rhineland refinery, Germany’s biggest oil processing complex, has cut production this month and Ford Motor Co. has curbed barge loading of vehicles from Cologne, though it’s increased the frequency of shipments as an offset.
The Rhine, which runs from Switzerland to the North Sea, is a key waterway for moving goods through some of the most industry-heavy parts of the continent.
While water levels are set to rise, they remain low by normal standards and might continue to disrupt transport across Europe.
Temperatures in some German cities will rise to 30 degrees Celsius (86F) or above that during next week, the forecaster Maxar said in a report on Friday.
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