Bonn/Region · The low water level of the Rhine leads to supply bottlenecks and higher fuel prices - also in the region. At some petrol pumps it says "sold out".
If you drive to the gas station with the last drop of petrol in your tank, you are taking a risk these days - the risk of breaking down without fuel. Because at some stations the "sold out" sign hangs at the gas pump, at least temporarily. This can also happen in the region from time to time. In view of the low water levels of the Rhine, the supply situation is difficult for oil companies. The ships can only transport a fraction of their cargo, and the transfer of freight to road or rail is comparatively costly and time-consuming. This is why fuel prices are rising. And this despite the fact that crude oil has recently become cheaper.
At the beginning of October, a litre of diesel cost 1.34 euro on average for the federal government, but at the end of the month it was 1.42 euro. According to data from the German Petroleum Industry Association (MWV), premium petrol became more expensive in the course of the month, from 1.49 euro to 1.53 euro per litre. In the same period a barrel of crude oil (159 litres) of the North Sea variety Brent fell in price by eleven percent to the equivalent of 66.40 euro.
The logistical effort for the companies has become greater and more complex due to the low water level, says MWV spokesman Alexander von Gersdorff. For example, tanker trucks would have to travel longer distances to ensure supplies. The market is "in disarray", says the Association of Independent Petrol Stations. "It's extremely difficult at the moment," confirms Aral spokesman Detlef Brandenburg. "We have to reschedule several times a day during transport.“ This would initially depend on the capacities of the inland waterway vessels, which could only carry 20 percent of the usual freight. Road and rail are the alternatives.
Shell: "tense logistics chain“
But there are bottlenecks there too, says Cornelia Wolber, spokeswoman for Shell in Hamburg. "Even before the problem of the low water level we had to deal with a tense logistics chain.“ This has now become even more acute.
Shell operates the Rhineland refinery in Godorf and Wesseling. Although this is supplied with crude oil via a pipeline, 34 percent of the finished products are transported further across the Rhine by ship - normally. In the meantime, more and more fuel has to be transported from there to the various tank farms by truck and rail tank car. Neither Aral nor Shell have given any information on the additional costs resulting from such shifts. But they leave no doubt that these higher costs will ultimately be felt at the pumps.
In addition, there are always supply gaps in the filling station network , according to MWV spokesman Gersdorff. Although not nationwide, they occur sporadically and then by the hour. "The supply situation is particularly tense in western and southern Germany," he says. "If the water levels remain so low, there will be no short-term improvement." In his view it is however a blessing in disguise that the mineral oil companies can maintain the supply at all up-to-date. In addition, the release of oil reserves by the federal government had eased the situation.
Temporary bottlenecks at petrol stations
A GA survey of petrol stations in Bonn and the region showed that there is usually enough fuel in stock. "No problem" or "everything is fine so far“ were the responses. However, some operators and customers reported temporary vacancies in the past few days. On Friday morning at Aral in Ramersdorf, for example, all columns were tapped except one type of diesel. "Certain types were empty twice last month, now everything is running again," explained the employee of a HEM filling station in Bad Honnef, who does not want to be named. "But we don't know exactly when the next tanker truck will arrive. It's definitely a problem.“
Elsewhere, too, stations were empty at times: "Since Thursday we don't have any diesel anymore", Axel Sülzen from the Aral filling station in Bad Godesberg said on Friday. However, he expected supplies in the evening. As usual, the Total filling station in Bornheim received its daily delivery on Friday noon - around 36,000 litres of different fuels."Everything is going well in Bornheim," says one employee. However, he reported problems in Cologne and in Herborn in Hesse. In Meckenheim, the operator of the Aral filling station waited hand and hand until Thursday afternoon for a new fuel delivery: "Before, we were sitting on the dry land," he says. It is estimated that the current stock there will last until Monday, when it will have to be replenished.
A similar picture emerges in the district of Ahrweiler. The filling stations are generally supplied. In the past few days, bottlenecks occurred briefly at a free filling station in Remagen and at two filling stations in the Brohl Valley.
As reported, the situation is tense also in regard to fuel oil: Some enterprises in the region changed over to delivering smaller fuel oil quantities because of a threatening supply shortage.
(Original text: Sabrina Bauer, Nicole Garten-Dölle, Thomas Heinemann, Dominik Pieper, Günther Schmitt, Translation: Mareike Graepel)