Regional News  |  November 17, 2021

New low-water vessels for the supply of raw materials to BASF’s Ludwigshafen site

  • New special ships make a significant contribution to the security of supply and competitiveness of the site
  • Significant increase in transport volumes at low water compared to conventional inland vessels

Ensuring supplies to the Ludwigshafen site even at low water levels on the Rhine is a central goal of BASF SE’s inland waterway logistics. To this end, BASF is expanding its existing fleet, which is currently leased from various shipping companies via time-charter contracts, through three new building projects:  

  1. A low-water tanker developed together with external partners and the shipping company Stolt Tankers currently is under construction.
  2. A gas tanker that has already been commissioned by the shipping company HGK Shipping.
  3. A low-water specialized ship currently being built by the shipping company GEFO.

“With these three ships, we can once again significantly improve the security of supply and thus the competitiveness of the site, even during critical low-water events. The deployment of these special ships is the final step in the implementation of our roadmap, which we initiated immediately after the extreme drought in summer and autumn 2018. We have already completed the expansion of the re-cooling capacity, the development of an early warning system for dry periods and the flexibilisation of our loading points,” says Dr. Uwe Liebelt, President European Verbund Sites. “In the interplay of these measures, we will be able to significantly increase delivery reliability for our customers.”

As a first measure, BASF had already permanently chartered existing ships on the market in 2019, which can still transport significant quantities even at low water, from various shipping companies. This measure has proven successful and is continuously being developed. In addition, BASF, together with external partners, initiated the development of three new types of inland waterway vessels suitable for low water to close gaps in supply security.

The contract for the construction and operation of a vessel for the transport of special products on the Rhine was signed with the shipping company GEFO. The tanker is a vessel optimized for extreme low-water situations for the transport of special chemicals and will be named Canaletto. With its configuration, the 110-meter-long and 11.45-meter-wide vessel can be used very flexibly. It has eight stainless steel tanks, two of which are special tanks with a special coating. The new tanker will be built and operated exclusively for BASF by the GEFO Shipping Group. Commissioning is scheduled for mid-2022.

The new gas tanker of the shipping company HGK has already been put into service. The Gas94 is characterized by the optimized buoyancy properties of the hull, which are achieved through a sophisticated arrangement of components such as cargo tanks and propulsion technology. The 110-meter-long and 12.5-meter-wide gas tanker is wider than the usual gas ships. With its design, it can still carry 200 tons of liquefied gases even at water levels of 30 centimeters at Kaub.

The flagship of the new low-water vessels will be the innovative tanker co-developed by BASF, which has an exceptionally high load-bearing capacity. It will be able to pass the critical point in the Rhine at Kaub even at a level of 30 centimeters with a cargo of 650 tons, which is significantly more than any other tanker. At medium low water, its transport capacity of around 2,500 tons will be twice as high as that of conventional inland vessels. The ship is not only exceptional with its dimensions of 135 meters by 17.5 meters – its lightweight construction and equipment with ten stainless steel tanks and three separate loading systems are also novel. “We took the initiative for this development in 2018, because there was no such vessel available on the market,” says Liebelt. “I am pleased that we were able to win the shipping company Stolt for the implementation.” The ship is being built exclusively for BASF by Stolt Tankers and will be deployed on the Rhine at the end of 2022. (BASF presents innovative tanker for low water on the Rhine).

“In all three cases, we worked closely with shipping companies and external partners and were able to develop custom-fit models with them that exactly meet our needs,” says Barbara Hoyer, Vice President, Domestic Delivery Services.

In addition to expanding the protection of transport capacities, other measures support the goal of making the Ludwigshafen site more resilient to prolonged low-water events:

  • Together with the Federal Institute of Hydrology, BASF has implemented a digital early warning system for low water with an advance warning time of up to six weeks. This allows adjustments to logistics activities to be made earlier than before.
  • Loading points at selected production plants have been and are being converted and expanded in order to be able to switch to alternative modes of transport such as rail.
  • In addition, BASF is a co-signatory of the Federal Ministry of Transport’s  “Low Water Rhine” action plan presented at the beginning of July 2019. Various measures are intended to improve the navigability of the Rhine in the coming years.


About BASF
At BASF, we create chemistry for a sustainable future. We combine economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility. More than 110,000 employees in the BASF Group contribute to the success of our customers in nearly all sectors and almost every country in the world. Our portfolio is organized into six segments: Chemicals, Materials, Industrial Solutions, Surface Technologies, Nutrition & Care and Agricultural Solutions. BASF generated sales of €59 billion in 2020. BASF shares are traded on the stock exchange in Frankfurt (BAS) and as American Depositary Receipts (BASFY) in the U.S. Further information at



Last Update November 17, 2021