(Bloomberg) -- A vessel is blocking the Rhine River south of Cologne after it suffered a technical fault, further hampering the operations of barges used to ship goods along one of Europe's key waterways.
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A section of the river between St. Goar and Oberwesel is closed, a spokesman for the WSA water authority said. That's on a narrow part of the river near the closely watched Kaub chokepoint.
The affected vessel is made up of four parts, which will have to be separated from one another before they can be towed away. That's being worked on and it's possible that the river will reopen as early as today, the spokesman said.
Read more: Veteran Barge Company Says Business on Upper Rhine Is at Risk
Low water levels are hampering the shipment of commodities along the Rhine River, which snakes for about 800 miles from the Swiss Alps down to the North Sea. This latest setback only adds to the logistical difficulties already facing shippers.
The closure is only a few kilometers downriver from Kaub, where the measured water level is currently so low that it's uneconomical for many commodity-hauling barges to sail through. That's hampering the shipment of vital goods to locations further upriver, including parts of southern Germany and Switzerland.
While the river between St. Goar and Overwesel may be reopened relatively quickly, low water levels are set to continue hampering shipments for some time yet.
The latest forecast for Kaub is for an increase to 49 centimeters (19.3 inches) early Aug. 21 local time -- while a slightly deeper river potentially brings a sliver of relief to shippers, many barges will still be severely restricted in how much cargo they can carry through the chokepoint at that level.
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