Europe is set for a mild month as forecasters see winter on hold

Some forecasters have suggested a possible return to average temperatures in Europe in the second half of November. PHOTO: REUTERS

BRUSSELS - Europe is set for a mild November, easing pressure on natural gas storage as the region’s energy crunch restricts supplies ahead of winter.

Long-range outlooks from forecasters Maxar Technologies and Marex show no cold spells for the month – a relief for households worried about the cost of heating and for governments keen to preserve gas stocks following a slump in Russian supply.

“In terms of energy demand, the warm start to November would be a welcome sign given the current state of global energy,” said Mr Matthew Dross, a meteorologist at Maxar.

“Still, occasional bouts of cold air cannot be ruled out for November and the winter 2022 to 2023 season as a whole.”

European gas prices have dropped significantly since peaking in August, but are still around 80 per cent above year-ago levels.

Market spikes have driven up costs for consumers and industry, with many bracing themselves for eye-watering winter bills.

“Strong above-normal” temperatures are expected in early November, while mild weather will continue through the month, according to Mr Dross.

Other forecasters have suggested a possible return to average temperatures in the second half of November.

Autumn in Europe has already been unseasonably warm, with October registering the lowest number of “heating-degree days” since 2000, Mr Dross said.

That has helped keep gas in storage facilities, which are now about 95 per cent full across the continent, with Germany’s sites above target at almost 99 per cent.

Germany’s national forecaster Deutscher Wetterdienst said the country’s current warm weather is set to continue, while France’s weather service also sees higher-than-usual temperatures persisting.

In Britain, the chances of a colder-than-normal winter are actually increasing, though the most likely scenario remains an average winter till the end of January, Britain’s Met Office said.

Floating storage

Lower-than-expected gas demand and declining prices – coupled with limited capacity to accommodate incoming cargoes of liquefied natural gas – have already triggered greater use of floating storage.

Traders globally are keeping their liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments on vessels for longer – with record volumes at sea in October – in anticipation of higher prices later in the season.

“LNG carriers with an estimated worth of about US$2 billion (S$2.82 billion) are currently queueing to unload their cargo,” said Mr Alexandre Fierro, a senior meteorologist and research analyst at Marex in London.

A warm November would be far from solving Europe’s energy problems, but a delayed start to the heating season would at least give policymakers some breathing room. And if the region is spared a deep freeze this winter – as predicted by scientists at the Copernicus Climate Change Service – consumers may get welcome respite from the worst cost-of-living crisis in decades. BLOOMBERG

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.