«Cold weather, heavy snowfall boosted electricity consumption»
«Southeast European nations are halting exports to neighbors»
«Greece halted electricity outflows on Wednesday and Bulgaria plans to stop all power exports from Friday.»
«Electricity for next-day delivery sold at 77.70 euros ($83) a megawatt-hour on the Seepex exchange, about half Tuesday’s levels but still almost double the price in Germany, the European benchmark»
«Hydroelectric production plummeted in the Balkans as temperatures fell as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 Fahrenheit) and parts of the Danube river were almost entirely covered with ice»
«Romanian Energy Minister Toma Petcu warned that the country’s two major coal producers have reserves that would last only four days if consumption remains at peak levels»
«The prolonged cold snap exposed the weakness of southeast Europe’s power markets, which should in theory have unrestricted flows»
«A former Australian industry minister, Ian Macfarlane, claimed at a uranium industry conference that the only serious alternative way that baseload power can be produced is by hydro and nuclear» [Fonte]
* * * * * * * *
I sistemi di produzione dell’energia dovrebbero essere commensurati in previsione di richieste di picco.
Che di inverno faccia freddo, e che possa anche essere un freddo severo e duraturo, non dovrebbe essere una notizia riservata.
Quello che sta succedendo nel sud-est europeo dovrebbe far riflettere a fondo.
I momenti di alta richiesta di energia, specie poi se si aggiungesse una quota da destinarsi al riscaldamento, dovrebbero essere ragionevolmente prevedibili. Mentre non sarebbe prevedibile se in concomitanza della richiesta di picco vi possa essere luce per alimentare la produzione fotovoltaica e vento a sufficienza per integrare la produzione tradizionale con l’eolico.
Senza aver risolto questo problema di base si corre il serio rischio di restare al buio ed al freddo.
– Coal, gas and power supply running short across Europe
– French gas surging to a record as LNG cargoes urgently sought
From the rivers criss-crossing eastern Europe to the Mediterranean ports of Greece and France, everyone is hunting for energy supplies.
Blizzards, gale force winds, arctic temperatures and river ice thicker than a house has left the stewards of the European energy business frenzied. Prices of natural gas, primarily a heating fuel, has soared to the highest in more than two years. Blackouts across Eastern Europe caused electricity rates to spike to record levels.
It’s chaotic, but yet familiar. While energy grid operators, producers and traders prepare for winter’s chill every year, they tend to rely on meteorological forecasts that sometimes turn out to be dead wrong. So when a winter that’s expected to be mild develops into an extended deep freeze, a mad dash to meet demand ensues.
“Those who became sure that such a cold spell was unlikely given the overall trend in global warming are like those who get drowned in a stream that averages three inches deep,” said Zach Allen, president of Pan Eurasian Enterprises, an industry consultant in Rhode Island. “The Black Swan is your constant companion.”
January will be one of Europe’s coldest months of the past five years and the chill will linger for at least another two weeks, according to Giacomo Masato, a meteorologist at energy broker Marex Spectron Group Ltd. in London.
“The more you go inland, the more likely it will be that even maximum temperatures will be around zero,” Masato said. “That’s cold.”
Waste of Time
When Andreas Speer, a commodities analyst at Bayerische Landesbank in Munich, last month looked at the long-range weather forecasts for January, he saw mild weather.
“That’s not what I see when I look out the window,” he said on Friday, referring to winds of 110 kilometers an hour (68 miles per hour) and freezing temperatures. “Models are a waste of time and money beyond three weeks. The cold snap caught people by surprise.”
For Europe’s natural gas traders, this winter was supposed to be boring, with a glut damping any potential for wild price swings. Norway and Russia exported at record levels, while the increasingly global liquefied natural gas trade gave utilities a cushion. By September, prices from gas to power were still near six-year lows.
But gas ended the year with its biggest bull run in a decade as Centrica Plc delayed the return of the U.K.’s biggest gas store by more than two months after the start of the heating season. Long-term reserves in the region’s biggest gas market are now only about half of normal.
The scramble for supplies intensified by the end of last year as temperatures plunged. In Turkey, the state-owned gas grid operator asked private power plants to reduce gas demand by 90 percent as Istanbul got covered in snow. France issued its strongest warning that the southeast part of the country had an urgent need for extra gas. Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia last week deployed emergency services to evacuate remote villages where people were stranded without electricity or heat.
As the world’s power brokers gather in Davos, Switzerland, this week, they’ll need to wrap up warm as a low pressure system is forecast to send temperatures to below minus 20 Celsius (minus 4 Fahrenheit). The country may get its lowest seasonal average in a decade, with a mean of minus 8 Celsius across the country.
France will be 6 to 8 degrees Celsius below normal by the end of next week and the grid may implement measures to reduce power demand from Tuesday. Power demand is forecast just shy of its 2012 record on Thursday. Electricite de France SA was granted a two-week a delay on safety checks for the Tricastin-2 nuclear reactor in France because of the freeze and has asked for a reprieve on another reactor.
To make matters worse, countries are struggling to acquire extra liquefied natural gas as Asian buyers are willing to pay a higher price to meet demand there. Coal can sometimes be used as an alternative. But for Romania stocks are nearly gone. Even the barges carrying oil are getting stuck in icy rivers they can normally plough through.
“We were kind of expecting from around zero to below average temperatures, but we weren’t expecting it to become this cold,” said Masato. “The extent of the cold and the persistence of this anomalous weather condition was certainly extreme.”
February is threatening a rerun of this month, even if milder weather is forecast, according to BayernLB’s Speer. With a bit more anticipation by traders, more LNG tankers might be in the correct position to supply Europe, he said.
“I’m nervous,” because prices may surge again, he said.
* * * * * * *
More examples of energy and commodity chaos:
– Blizzards and gales are curbing movements of vessels at Bulgaria’s Varna port and navigation in the German and Hungarian parts of the Danube river has been suspended.
– Romania’s major grain-exporting hub of Constanta was disrupted and at least three ports in Ukraine’s Odessa region have limited ship maneuvers due to ice.
– Electricity supplies could be limited as workers at Electricite de France’s power plants plan to strike from 9 p.m. Paris time on Monday for 24 hours. There is also a strike notice at one of Uniper SE’s coal plants for the same time.
– France has low hydro availability after the driest December since 1959, according to state forecaster Meteo France and seven of EDF’s nuclear reactors are offline. Natural gas levels at the Saline storage network serving southeastern France are at half capacity just as a mid-winter cold snap boosts demand.
– Greece stopped exporting electricity and neighboring Bulgaria plans to follow suit.
– Romanian Energy Minister Toma Petcu warned on Thursday that the country’s two major coal producers have reserves that would last only four days if consumption remains at peak levels.
– Operations have been affected in Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine
– Traders are concerned freeze may slow grain loadings in region
The cold blast across eastern Europe is raising concerns about a grain-export crunch as icy conditions restrict navigation at some of the region’s most important ports.
Blizzards and gales are curbing movements of vessels at Bulgaria’s Varna port and navigation in the Hungarian part of the Danube river has been suspended. Romania’s major grain-exporting hub of Constanta was disrupted this week and at least three ports in Ukraine’s Odessa region have limited ship maneuvers due to ice.
As forecasters expect another cold spell next week in Ukraine, one of Europe’s top wheat and corn shippers, traders are concerned ports may close again and slow exports. The Black Sea region accounts for about a quarter of the world’s grain shipments and further disruptions may help boost wheat and corn prices that reached multi-year lows in 2016.
“We are expecting these logistical issues to continue in Black Sea ports for next few days,” Wibke Baars, a consultant at Paris-based farm adviser Agritel, said by phone. “If colder conditions continue and it slows loading even more, then we could see an impact on prices.”
Traders are also closely watching weather conditions because severe cold can damage crops during winter dormancy. While temperatures plunged from Russia to Poland, crops have mostly been protected by an insulating layer of snow.
Read more: How Europe’s crops are coping with the latest cold snap.
In Bulgaria, ship movement is suspended in some parts at the port of Varna, while terminals at Burgas have reopened after closing Tuesday, the Bulgarian Ports Infrastructure Co. said Thursday. There’s no information yet that grain exports will be impacted and shipments are taking place as normal, the Agriculture and Food Ministry said.
Romania’s Constanta port reopened Wednesday after being closed overnight.
Ice-related restrictions mean ship loading may be slightly slower in Reni, Izmail and Ust-Dunaysk in Ukraine’s Odessa region, according to a spokesman for the nation’s Administration of Seaports, and the Infrastructure Ministry. Other ports in Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Mykolayiv, and Oktyabrsk have taken similar measures.
In the Hungarian section of the Danube, ice breakers are in use near Gyor by the Austrian border and on the Tisza river close to Szeged near Serbia to clear way for ports, a spokeswoman for the National Water Authority said. Hungary is a large corn producer.
Temperatures may be as much as 20 degrees Celsius (36 degrees Fahrenheit) below normal in parts of eastern Europe next week, said Kenny Miller, a meteorologist at MDA Weather Services.
“This situation is different than last year because we had a mild winter last year and this year we are seeing a normal winter,” Agritel’s Baars said. “It is too early to say the logistics issue is having an impact on prices, but we certainly have to monitor the situation.”
– Cold weather, heavy snowfall boosted electricity consumption
– Southeast European nations are halting exports to neighbors
The unusually cold weather and heavy snowfall that sowed panic in southeastern European power trading this week continued to pressure prices as Greece stopped exporting electricity and neighboring Bulgaria plans to follow suit.
While day-ahead power prices from Hungary to Bulgaria fell for a second day from Tuesday’s records, they remained above usual levels as the cold weather boosted demand while reducing output from the region’s hydroelectric plants. Greece halted electricity outflows on Wednesday and Bulgaria plans to stop all power exports from Friday.
“Consumption went to extremes, and the whole region is generally in deficit in winter time,” said Dejan Stojcevski, chief operating officer of Serbia’s Seepex power exchange. “Everybody is looking to import.”
Electricity for next-day delivery sold at 77.70 euros ($83) a megawatt-hour on the Seepex exchange, about half Tuesday’s levels but still almost double the price in Germany, the European benchmark. Prices on Bulgaria’s Ibex exchange fell 27 percent to 70.67 euros.
Hydroelectric production plummeted in the Balkans as temperatures fell as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 Fahrenheit) and parts of the Danube river were almost entirely covered with ice. Precipitation in the Transylvanian and Balkan regions will be down to as little as 50 percent of normal levels for the rest of the week, according to The Weather Co. data.
Romanian Energy Minister Toma Petcu warned that the country’s two major coal producers have reserves that would last only four days if consumption remains at peak levels. An inspection of the companies’ inadequate winter preparations will be carried out, he told reporters in Bucharest.
Officials expect consumption to slowly decline as temperatures begin to rise. Bulgaria’s electricity system operator forecasts a peak load of 6,900 megawatts on Saturday, down from about 7,700 megawatts on Jan. 10, spokeswoman Svilena Dimitrova said by phone. Still, temperatures in southeastern Europe will remain well below average over the next two weeks, according to MDA Weather Services.
The prolonged cold snap exposed the weakness of southeast Europe’s power markets, which should in theory have unrestricted flows. When consumption spikes and generation goes down at the same time, neighboring countries have trouble picking up the slack, Seepex’s Stojcevski said.
“The cheapest electricity is now in Germany, but that output cannot be easily shifted to this part of Europe,” he said. “The further south or southeast your go, the prices go up.”
Cold weather and heavy snowfall in southeast Europe have forced countries such as Bulgaria and Greece to impose a ban on electricity exports to prevent a supply crunch and blackouts, Kallanish Energy reports.
Bulgaria’s power exchange, Ibex, announced Thursday exports curtailment would go into effect today, following orders from the country’s energy minister Temenuzhka Petkova.
“The curtailment will be applied till the moment of recovery of the required reserves to maintain the reliable operation of the power grid of the Republic of Bulgaria,” Ibex said.
Earlier in the week, Greece urged consumers to avoid unnecessary power usage as the country has been hit by unusually cold temperatures. Authorities banned all exports of power and have prepared a plan for power cuts to large-scale consumers to ensure an uninterrupted supply to consumers.
An energy ministry official said Wednesday maintenance at Greece’s largest power utility, PPC, coupled with limited wind and solar output, and lack of imports have strained domestic power supply.
“Consumption went to extremes, and the whole region is generally in deficit in winter time,” Dejan Stojcevski, chief operations office for Serbia’s Seepex power exchange told Bloomberg. “Everybody is looking to import.”
Stojcevski added “the cheapest electricity is now in Germany, but that output cannot be easily shifted to this part of Europe. … The further south or southeast your go, the prices go up.”
On Thursday, spot power (baseload) prices for delivery today were trading at €70.67 ($75) in Bulgaria and €77.70 ($82.46) in Serbia. Phelix, the reference price for power in Europe for spot power in the German and Austrian market area, was trading at €34.10 ($36.19) baseload.