• Navigating conditions were more or less normal in the first six months of 2021. In July 2021, the Rhine was subject to floodings. In October and November 2021, both the Rhine and Danube experienced low waters.
• Fuel prices rose due to the steep increase in oil prices. Freight rates increased as well, but the trend was more positive in dry cargo and container transport, compared to liquid bulk transport.

 

  • With regard to port operations, monthly data for waterside goods handling in the largest Upper Rhine ports indicate a small recovery trend that began in the second half of 2020 and continued throughout the year 2021. However, severe low waters in October and November 2021 rather interrupted this recovery.
  •  

    FIGURE 1: WATERSIDE GOODS HANDLING IN MAIN UPPER RHINE PORTS (IN MILLION TONNES)


    Source: CCNR analysis based on ports data
     

  • Regarding the hydraulicity aspect, figure 2 shows a scatter plot with data for the available draught at Kaub (x-axis) as well as freight volumes in million tonnes recorded at the lock of Iffezheim (y-axis). The values of available draught were calculated from water levels.2
  • When available draughts fall below a certain threshold, navigation conditions become a bottleneck for freight transport. Examples are the low water period in October and November 2018, but also the more recent period in late 2021 (see left part of figure 2). For draught values above a certain threshold, the scatter plot does not show any relationship, except for the right-hand part of the diagramme, where high water levels tend to decrease freight transport.
  •  

    FIGURE 2: AVAILABLE DRAUGHT AT KAUB AND FREIGHT TRANSPORT PASSING THROUGH THE LOCK OF IFFEZHEIM ON THE UPPER RHINE (MONTHLY DATA M1/2004-M12/2021)


    Source: CCNR calculation based on data from German Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration (WSV), provided by the Federal Institute of Hydrology (BfG)
     

  • For the Danube, monthly data are available for the lock of Wildungsmauer near Vienna (January 2004 – November 2021). This lock is located in the eastern part of Austria where the country’s highest inland waterway freight transport is observed. A certain relationship between hydraulicity and freight transport can be observed in the scatter plot. Indeed, when the avaible draught is low, it seems that transport volumes are also reduced.
  •  

    FIGURE 3: AVAILABLE DRAUGHT AT WILDUNGSMAUER AND FREIGHT TRANSPORT ON THE DANUBE IN AUSTRIA (MONTHLY DATA M1/2004-M11/2021)


    Source: CCNR analysis based on data from viadonau and Statistics Austria
     

  • For the Danube, the last quarter of 2021 was characterised by very low water levels and available draught values. The cargo losses in late 2021 can be explained by this. This confirms the information given in chapter 1.
  •  

FREIGHT RATES IN THE RHINE REGION3

  • Within ARA-Rhine trade, spot market freight rates for transporting gasoil followed an increasing trend starting in the third quarter of 2021 and reaching a peak in November 2021. This is mainly due to the low water periods in October and November 2021.
  •  

    FIGURE 4: FREIGHT RATE EVOLUTION FOR GASOIL FROM THE ARA REGION TO RHINE DESTINATIONS (INDEX 2015 = 100)*


    Source: CCNR calculation based on PJK International
    * PJK collects freight rates (in Euro per tonne) for ARA-Rhine trade of liquid bulk. The CCNR transforms these values into an index with base year 2015. Lower Rhine: Duisburg, Cologne. Upper Rhine: Karlsruhe, Basel. Main: Frankfurt/M.

     

  • Statistics Netherlands (CBS) collects freight rate data from a panel of Dutch IWT companies. These data are observed twice quarterly and include fuel and low water surcharges.
  •  

    FIGURE 5: FREIGHT RATE EVOLUTION PER QUARTER FOR DUTCH IWT COMPANIES ACCORDING TO MARKET SEGMENT (INDEX 2015 = 100, QUARTERLY DATA)


    Source: Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek (Binnenvaartdiensten; prijsindex)
     

  • Transport prices for dry bulk followed an upward trend starting after the third quarter 2020. Container transport freight rates remained on a positive string from the second quarter of 2020 onwards. For liquid cargo, transport prices remained at a low level with a further decline in the third quarter 2021.
  • Transport demand for liquid products increased in the Netherlands, but not in neighbouring countries. This explains the situation for liquid cargo freight rates for Dutch barging companies, as their operational areas also include other countries.

 
 

FUEL COST EVOLUTION

  • Fuel costs are analysed on the basis of gasoil/diesel prices published by the energy price monitoring system of the Belgian Ministry of Economic Affairs.4 A comparison with oil prices reveals a very close correlation which serves as a basis for an outlook on fuel prices.
  • In the second half of 2021, oil prices – and therefore also fuel prices – continued to follow an increasing trend. In the fourth quarter of 2021 they stood at US$79,6 (approximately 69.8 Euro as the exchange rate was USD/EUR 1.17).
  •  

    FIGURE 6: AVERAGE FUEL PRICES ACCORDING TO THE BELGIAN MINISTRY OF ECONOMIC AFFAIRS AND BRENT CRUDE OIL PRICES INCLUDING FORECAST*


    Sources: ITB and SPF Economie (fuel price). US Energy Information Administration (oil price). Federal Reserve Economic Data (historical exchange rate US-dollar/Euro). 1 barrel (bbl) = 159 litres.
    * EIA = US Energy Information Administration. The forecast assumes a nominal exchange rate of 1.12 US dollars per Euro throughout 2022 and 2023. The forecast does not consider the impact of the war in Ukraine.

     

  • In its latest short-term outlook of January 2022, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts Brent crude oil spot prices to average around 75 US dollars per barrel in 2022, and around 67.5 US dollars per barrel in 2023. This originates in assumptions of the pandemic and economic uptake as well as on OPEC agreements to curb supply caps up to September 2022.56 Due to political circumstances, they passed the mark of US$100 by the beginning of March 2022. In case of a prolongation of the political conflict in Ukraine, oil and energy prices are expected to rise further on a steep path.
  • Fuel prices in European IWT are impacted by both oil prices and the exchange rate between US dollar and the Euro. The very steep escalation of the US national debt limits any appreciation potential of the US dollar towards the Euro throughout 2022.7 The depreciation of the Euro in relation to the US dollar, starting in May 2021 from 1.22 to 1.13 by December 2021, increased fuel prices in European IWT.8
  • Based on this reasoning, fuel prices in IWT are expected to peak in 2022 and afterwards decline in 2023.

• Transport performance on inland waterways in the EU increased by 4.3% in the first half year of 2021, compared to the same period one year earlier. The recovery was mainly driven by the dry cargo sector.
• Passenger transport started to recover only in the second half of 2021. However, the number of passengers, and therefore the capacity utilisation of the cruise vessels, remained rather low.

 

FREIGHT TRANSPORT PERFORMANCE IN EUROPE

    TRANSPORT PERFORMANCE IN IWT ON THE NATIONAL TERRITORY OF EACH COUNTRY IN EUROPE – COMPARISON BETWEEN Q1+Q2 2020 AND Q1+Q2 2021 (IN MILLION TKM)*


    Sources: Eurostat [iww_go_qnave], OECD (Republic of Moldova, Switzerland, Ukraine)
    * For the UK, data were not available.

     

    FIGURE 1: INLAND WATERWAY TRANSPORT (IWT) PERFORMANCE IN EUROPE BY REGION AND QUARTER (IN MILLION TKM)


    Sources: Eurostat [iww_go_qnave], OECD (Ukraine), Destatis (Rhine and affluents)
    * Danube = TKM in all Danube countries including Ukraine

     

  • The transport performance illustrated in figure 1 shows a steady recovery trend for inland waterway freight transport in Europe, starting in Q3 2020. A weakening in this upward trend occurred in Q3 2021, which can be attributed to floodings in the Rhine region. This period of high water was followed by a period of low water in Q4 2021.
  •  

RHINE AND DANUBE NAVIGATION PER CARGO SEGMENT

    FIGURES 2 AND 3: RHINE TRANSPORT VOLUME UPSTREAM AND DOWNSTREAM FOR MAJOR CARGO SEGMENTS (IN MILLION TONNES, FOR Q1-Q3 OF 2020 AND 2021)



    Source: CCNR analysis based on Destatis
     

  • Cargo transport on the traditional Rhine amounted to 126.4 million tonnes in the first nine months of 2021, compared to 118.1 million tonnes in the same period in the previous year. This implies an increase of 7.0%. Dry cargo and container transport recorded higher volumes (+10.4% and +3.7% respectively) while liquid cargo remained rather stable. Coal transport benefited from high gas prices throughout the year 2021. Overall, the demand for dry cargo ship capacity was rather high in the second half of 2021.
  • For the lock of Iffezheim on the Upper Rhine, data were already available for the entire year 2021. They also indicate an uptake in the first nine months (by 6.0%), but a ‘melting down’ of the latter due to low waters in Q4 2021. For the entire year 2021, cargo volumes remained stable at this lock, which can be regarded as a likely indication also for the entire traditional Rhine for 2021.
  •  

    FIGURES 4 AND 5: MIDDLE DANUBE TRANSPORT VOLUME UPSTREAM AND DOWNSTREAM FOR THE MAJOR CARGO SEGMENTS (IN MILLION TONNES, FOR Q1-Q3 OF 2020 AND 2021)*



    Source: Danube Commission market observation report
    * Detailed data according to goods segment and quarters are only available for the Middle Danube at Mohács.

     

  • On the Danube, iron ore transport also benefited from higher steel production. The increase in the first three quarters of 2021, compared to the same period in 2020, amounts to 6.8%. However, looking at monthly figures for iron ore, it is seen that this commodity lost about 18-20% of transport volume in August and September 2021 due to a lower available draught of pushed convoys.
  • The agricultural segment of grain follows a rather volatile transport demand on the Danube in general. Whereas grain transport was boosted by good harvests in 2020, it decreased in 2021. There are two main reasons for this. The primary reason lies in developments on the European grain export market. A secondary reason is the start of the above-mentioned low water period.
  •  
     

PASSENGER TRANSPORT IN EUROPE

  • The Danube, as well as the Rhine and its Moselle, Main, Neckar and Saar affluents, are important operating areas for river cruises in Europe, next to the Seine, Rhône and Douro. The Danube alone accounted for around 40% of the European market in terms of the number of cruise passengers (without rivers in Russia and Ukraine) in 2019. Together with the Rhine and Moselle, Main, Neckar, Saar, this share amounted to around 80-85%.1
  • A statistical measurement point for cruise vessels on the Rhine is the lock of Iffezheim on the Upper Rhine.
  •  

    FIGURE 6: NUMBER OF RIVER CRUISE VESSELS PASSING THE LOCK OF IFFEZHEIM ON THE UPPER RHINE PER HALF YEAR


    Source: German Waterway and Shipping Administration
     

    FIGURE 7: NUMBER OF RIVER CRUISE VESSELS PASSING THE LOCK OF IFFEZHEIM ON THE UPPER RHINE PER MONTH


    Source: German Waterway and Shipping Administration
     

  • When analysing monthly and half-year figures for 2020 and 2021, it is seen that the ongoing recovery in the cruise sector is concentrated entirely during the period between July and October. The important spring season could not unfold any activity in 2020 and 2021.
  • For the Danube, data are available for the lock of Jochenstein near Passau and the lock of Gabčikovo near Bratislava. The latter is located on the border between Slovakia and Hungary. It is also situated between Vienna and Budapest. Therefore, the passing cruise vessels reflect the cruising activity between two important destinations within the European river cruise sector. Next to Vienna and Budapest, Passau is also an important place where cruise vessels both start and finish their journey.
  •  

    FIGURE 8: NUMBER OF RIVER CRUISE VESSELS PASSING THROUGH THE LOCK OF JOCHENSTEIN NEAR PASSAU ON THE UPPER DANUBE PER MONTH


    Source: German Waterway and Shipping Administration
     

  • In 2019, 3,668 cruise vessels passed through the lock of Jochenstein, with a total of 512,458 passengers on board. In 2020, the respective numbers were 324 vessel transits and 25,160 passengers.
  • In 2021, a recovery was seen, with 1,255 cruise vessels and 107,727 passengers.
  • Data for the lock of Gabčikovo show a recovery in the number of passengers for the first three quarters of 2021 compared to 2020, of 77.4%. However, the activity in 2021 still lies at 63.9% below pre-pandemic levels. In total numbers, 98,000 passengers on cruise vessels were counted at this border point in (Q1+Q2+Q3) 2021, compared to 55,000 in (Q1+Q2+Q3) 2020, and 568,000 passengers in (Q1+Q2+Q3) 2019. In the whole year of 2019, 720,800 passengers were counted at Gabčikovo.
  •  
     

TRANSPORT VOLUME IN MAIN EUROPEAN IWT COUNTRIES

    FIGURE 9: INLAND WATERWAY TRANSPORT VOLUME IN MAIN EUROPEAN IWT COUNTRIES (IN MILLION TONNES, QUARTERLY DATA OF TRANSPORT VOLUME ON THE NATIONAL TERRITORY OF EACH COUNTRY)


    Source: Eurostat [iww_go_qnave]
    Due to a lack of plausibility of Stat.Bel data as from Q1 2018, the data for Belgium from this quarter onwards were recalculated. This was done by applying the rate of change that is present in the more plausible data from the Flemish waterway administration (De Vlaamse Waterweg). The series for Belgium then follows the trend for Flanders, but is located on a higher level. Compared to previous editions, it was decided to add Serbia, due to high IWT volumes in this country in recent times.

 
 

DRY BULK, LIQUID BULK AND CONTAINER TRANSPORT IN MAIN IWT COUNTRIES AND REGIONS

    FIGURE 10: DRY CARGO TRANSPORT (IN MILLION TONNES)



     

    FIGURE 11: LIQUID CARGO TRANSPORT (IN MILLION TONNES)



     

    FIGURE 12: CONTAINER TRANSPORT (IN MILLION TONNES)



    Sources: Eurostat [IWW_GO_QCNAVE], Destatis. Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek, De Vlaamse Waterweg, SPW Service Public de Wallonie, Voies Navigables de France, Romanian Institute of Statistics
    Note: For Belgium-Wallonia, infra-annual container statistics in tonnes are not available. The product group “machines/other goods” was assumed to consist mainly of container transport. The data contain total IWT on the territory of the country/region.