(Bloomberg) — A rare triple-dip La Nina is chilling Northeast Asia, with the densely populated region being hit by frigid weather that will add to global energy demand and push up fuel prices.
China, Japan and South Korea will experience below-freezing temperatures over the next couple of weeks, according to forecasts from the US National Centers for Environmental Prediction. The chill in Asia is coming just as Europe gets lashed by an Arctic blast that’s bringing heavy snowfall to the UK and Germany.
That may spur further gains in Asian liquefied natural gas prices, which have been rising since the middle of last month after plunging from a peak in late August. There could also be more support for coal, and the impact could even spill over into diesel and fuel oil, which can be used for heating and to generate electricity.
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The chief culprit is the La Nina weather pattern, which typically brings lower-than-normal temperatures to the northern hemisphere. The first triple-dip La Nina — which occurs when the pattern repeats for three consecutive years — of this century will last until the end of the northern winter, the World Meteorological Organization said late last month.
Here’s the outlook for key countries:
China will see two cold snaps, according to forecasts from the China Meteorological Administration. The first — which will run from Tuesday through Thursday — is expected to bring temperatures as low as minus 36 Celsius in the Inner Mongolian city of Hulunbuir, while also pushing down the mercury in Beijing.
Another snap is predicted to sweep across most parts of central, east and northwest China from Thursday through Sunday. Southern parts of the country could see record-low temperatures for mid-December on Sunday, while dry and frigid weather will reduce rainfall, the administration said Monday.
A sudden drop in temperatures caused electricity demand to surge in Guizhou province in southern China, forcing grid officials there to order some aluminum smelters to cut power use this week. On top of the freezing weather, nine Chinese provinces have also been whipped by sandstorms so far this week, which can hamper solar power generation.
Elevated demand for heating fuels may not ease until around the Lunar New Year holidays in late January when factories power down for the holiday, Chinese consultant Fengkuang Logistics said in a note. Still, activity in many of China’s mega-cities has ground to a halt amid severe virus outbreaks.
It’s getting colder in northern Japan — with Asahikawa in Hokkaido possibly experiencing temperatures as low as minus 10 degrees Celsius next week, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. Meanwhile, there’s a 40% chance eastern and western Japan will get below-normal temperatures from December through February, the JMA said.
See also: Energy Crunch Pushes Japan Into Era of Uncharted Coal Power
Japan has been stocking up on LNG supply to prepare for the winter months, with inventories held by electricity producers well-above the five-year average. The government is also asking citizens to save power to the best of their abilities, and the governor of Tokyo has even advised people to wear turtleneck sweaters to stay warm.
Cold-wave alerts have been issued for most parts of South Korea, including Seoul and Incheon, with heavy snow expected in the northern Chungcheong province this week, according to Korea Meteorological Administration.
Temperatures are dropping significantly, but the country has a 50% chance of seeing normal temperatures in January and February, the weather agency said. South Korea will use nuclear power and will optimize its maintenance schedule, while also making additional purchases of coal and LNG on spot markets, the energy ministry said in a statement.
—With assistance from Kevin Dharmawan.