The Rhine Runs Dry

Last year, the German company Thyssenkrupp declared force majeure as the reason for lawfully getting out of its obligations to complete various of its contracts or to complete them within a certain time.

Specifically, it cited the Rhine’s low water levels for disrupting the delivery of raw materials to its Duisburg plant. 

The water in the river was so shallow that the ships, laden with raw materials for the factory, could not float free of the bottom of the river. They would simply run aground if they tried to navigate the Rhine.

Photographs showed people walking on a broad stony beach that would normally be under water.

Around 40 percent of Switzerland’s diesel is brought into the country along the Rhine, with the rest by cargo trains, pipelines, trucks and the country’s own refineries.

Switzerland stores diesel against the possibility of interruption to its supply. This Monday, the Swiss Federal Office for National Economic Supply decided to allow the release of 30,000 cubic metres of diesel.

That is about two-and-a-half percent of the amount Switzerland has in storage.

It has done so because they cannot bring any diesel into the country by ship up the Rhine because the Rhine is dry.