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Continental Europe set for warmer than normal December: forecaster

Highlights


Weather Company sees no colder conditions in main energy centers

Low rainfall in southern Europe to impact low hydro levels

Warmer temperatures to limit upside to gas demand

Continental Europe is set for warmer-than-normal weather in December and through the winter, the Weather Company -- formerly WSI -- said in an update Tuesday, which would have a bearish impact on gas demand and prices if the forecast were to prove accurate.

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The closely watched forecasts predict temperatures across the northern and southern European mainland to be above the seasonal norms in December and into January and February.

The UK, however, is set for colder than normal conditions in December and January.

The Weather Company's chief meteorologist Todd Crawford said the evolution of the North Atlantic blocking pattern so far had suggested nothing "to get us excited about a fundamentally colder winter this year in the major energy demand centers."

Last winter saw a prolonged cold spell in late January/early February which saw gas prices spike particularly in southern Europe and led to an influx of LNG into southern France and Spain.

The previous three winters in northern Europe were mostly categorized by warm, wet and windy weather, which were bearish for gas markets traditionally buoyed by increased cold winter demand.

"The various climate models have consistently depicted another warm/wet winter across much of northern Europe," Crawford said.



"So, while we continue to expect spells of colder weather early in the winter, especially across the western half of Europe, we do not expect the winter as a whole to be particularly cold," he said.


HYDRO LEVELS


The Weather Company also said it expected precipitation to be above normal across northern Europe, but below normal across southern Europe.

This would have a serious impact on hydro levels in countries with significant hydro-based power generation such as Italy, France and Spain.

French hydro reservoirs were only 58% full in mid-November, the lowest since 2009, and in Spain hydro levels fell to the lowest level since 2011 at a little under 52%.

Alpine hydro levels usually build over the summer and start falling in late September/early October.

After several weeks at 20-year lows at the beginning of the year, reserves filled up during the summer until the seasonal fall from mid-September.

Weather Company sees warmer than normal winter

December


  • Northern Mainland: Warmer than normal
  • Southern Mainland: Warmer than normal
  • Nordic region: Colder than normal west, warmer than normal east
  • UK: Colder than normal

January

  • Northern Mainland: Colder than normal extreme west, warmer than normal elsewhere
  • Southern Mainland: Colder than normal west, warmer than normal east
  • Nordic region: Warmer than normal
  • UK: Colder than normal

February

  • Northern Mainland: Warmer than normal
  • Southern Mainland: Warmer than normal east, colder west
  • Nordic region: Warmer than normal
  • UK: Warmer than normal

--Stuart Elliott, stuart.elliott@spglobal.com
--Edited by Jeremy Lovell, jeremy.lovell@spglobal.com