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.”