Kiel Canal reopened to ship traffic after 13 days of closure. Ships have been sailing through the Kiel Canal again since Tuesday, January 3rd, 2023.
The Kiel Canal has been completely closed to shipping since December 21, 2022. The reason for the full closure was a pipeline leak near Brunsbüttel, as a result of which crude oil got into the canal. The oil spill just before Christmas was one of the worst oil spills in the north. And the duration of the channel blockage was also unique. Never before, except possibly during times of war during the world wars, has the Kiel Canal been closed to shipping for so long. The economic damage caused by the almost two-week blockage for shipping is correspondingly high. Accordingly, the full closure caused damage of around 1 to 1.5 million euros every day that no ships could pass through the canal.
Canal locks in Kiel and Brunsbüttel have been open again since Tuesday
Ships have finally been able to navigate the Kiel Canal again since January 3rd and no longer have to use the route around Denmark, which is several hundred nautical miles longer. Numerous ships have already passed through the lock in Kiel-Holtenau since the morning hours and are on their way towards Brunsbüttel and the North Sea. Around noon, the first ships were able to navigate the canal from Brunsbüttel towards Kiel.
Schelde Highway lock Kiel-Holtenau
Damage to the image of the Kiel Canal due to closures and accidents
The Kiel Canal is used by an average of 70-90 ships a day, the canal between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea is considered the busiest artificial waterway in the world. The alternative to the Kiel Canal is a trip around Skagen, a detour of about 250 nautical miles (about 463 kilometers). What doesn’t sound like much at first glance is nevertheless significant, because saving time is also a key factor in global supply chains and just-in-time production. Planning reliability is of crucial importance when planning and shipping goods.
Even if the almost two-week full closure that has now been lifted was undoubtedly the longest closure of the Kiel Canal, there have been repeated closures and restrictions on shipping traffic in the past: