Even though this winter has provided areas around the world with above-normal temperatures, serious concerns regarding the United Kingdom’s natural gas supply have arisen.
According to Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE), the U.K.’s natural gas storage has hit its lowest level since 2011. As of January 16th, the storage unit’s natural gas inventory was at 3.34 billion cubic meters. Some are fearing a repeat of winter 2012-2013 when freezing air and a higher demand for heat almost emptied the entire natural gas storage reserve.
According to Bloomberg, these events helped increase natural gas prices in the U.K. On January 16th, the February U.K. natural gas contract price was 45.75 pence a therm, equivalent to $7.13 per million British thermal units, reported ICE Futures Europe.
The 2012-2013 winter was colder when compared to this winter so far, but according to Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls of AccuWeather.com, this winter is different in one significant way:
There have been a couple of significant cold shots into Eastern Europe in December and January. Cold has been fairly limited farther west … In fact, outside of a cold period to end December in London, temperatures have been mostly above or near normal since November, with temperatures 1.5 C (2.7 F) above normal from Nov. 1 to Jan. 15. During this period in 2012-13, London averaged +0.3 C (+0.6 F).
According to Bloomberg, the countries of the European Union had 5.6 billion cubic meters of natural gas in storage and has decreased by 26 percent since October 2014.
Nicholls explained that for now it is expected that the next two weeks will be colder than normal across western and central Europe, At least three shots of cold air will enter the region. He also explained a forecast for February through mid-April:
A milder pattern is expected to return for the first half of February but can see another shot of cold to end the month … Overall, much of Europe looks to have near- to above-normal temperatures in March. I have some concern for a late chilly shot into Western Europe in early to mid-April.