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Colder Weather May Deplete UK Natural Gas Supplies by April

Despite above-normal temperatures to start the winter, concerns are rising about the natural gas supply in the United Kingdom.

Natural gas in storage in the U.K. is at its lowest level since 2011, according to Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE). The gas inventory was at 3.34 billion cubic meters, as of Jan. 16.

Some fear a repeat of the winter of 2012-13 when frigid air and the subsequent higher demand for heating nearly drained the entire storage reserve. The combination of events helped to drive up natural gas prices in the U.K., according to Bloomberg.com.

The price of the February U.K. natural gas contract was 45.75 pence a therm, or $7.13 per million British thermal units, on Jan. 16, ICE Futures Europe reported.

Analyst Rebecca Hermolle of Inenco Group Ltd., told Bloomberg that below-normal temperatures in the first quarter of 2015 may lead to the supply being depleted by April.

The 2012-13 winter was colder than this winter thus far, but there is one difference this year, AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls said.

"There have been a couple of significant cold shots into eastern Europe in December and January. Cold has been fairly limited farther west," Nicholls said.

"In fact, outside of a cold period to end December in London, temperatures have been mostly above or near normal since November, with temperatures 1.5 C (2.7 F) above normal from Nov. 1 to Jan. 15. During this period in 2012-13, London averaged +0.3 C (+0.6 F)," he added.

The countries of the European Union had 5.6 billion cubic meters of natural gas in storage, down 26 percent since October, Bloomberg reported.

In the short term, the next two weeks will likely end up being colder than normal across western and central Europe with at least three shots of cold air arriving, Nicholls said.

"A milder pattern is expected to return for the first half of February but can see another shot of cold to end the month," Nicholls said. "Overall, much of Europe looks to have near- to above-normal temperatures in March. I have some concern for a late chilly shot into western Europe in early to mid-April."