Rhine water levels have risen after rain in recent days but still remain well below levels that would allow normal sailings, they said.
“Most vessels are only sailing about 30 percent full,” one trader said. “The situation is worst in southern sections of the river; a lot more rain is still needed.”
The Rhine is an important shipping route for commodities including grains, minerals, coal and oil products including heating oil. The Danube is a major route for east European grain exports to west Europe.
Shallow water means that vessel operators impose surcharges on freight rates, increasing costs for cargo owners. More vessels are also needed to transport cargo consignments that are usually carried by a single barge, also raising transport costs.
The German inland waterways shipping association said that freight was still being delivered despite the low water levels.
(Reporting by Michael Hogan Editing by David Goodman)