Cold to Continues to Drive Up Energy Demand

State College, PA 1/07/2010 02:05 AM GMT (TransWorldNews) reports cold waves penetrating the entire eastern half of the U.S. and over much of the northern hemisphere are supporting energy demand increases and potentially affecting some oil refinery functions.

"Extremely cold temperatures for oil-producing regions off the U.S. Gulf Coast from now until mid-January offer a severe threat to temperature-sensitive refinery processes," said Chief Meteorologist and Expert Long-Range Forecaster Joe Bastardi.

The severe cold could impact refineries from Southern Mississippi to Houston, becoming particularly burdensome for refinery employees working outdoors.

Analysts expect that cold temperatures could cause the Northeast's heating oil demand to be 11 percent above normal.

Cold temperatures coupled with refinement process hiccups have the potential to tighten the supply in coming weeks.

It is not just the U.S. that has been experiencing well below normal temperatures, but much of the northern hemisphere.

Parts of Europe and Asia are also seeing a record chill, but regions in these continents may see a break in the temperatures by the end of the week.

"Temperatures may warm up later this week for North-Central China and the Korean Peninsula, but will come back below normal next week," said Expert Senior Meteorologist Jim Andrews.

The United States will continue to see frigid conditions. A period of near-normal temperatures is expected for mid-January over much of the U.S., but the cold is expected to return.

"A winter like this may have temperatures warming to normal occasionally, but extreme weather will reload and come back even colder," said Chief Meteorologist and Expert Long-Range Forecaster Joe Bastardi.

Andrews said the weather pattern around Greenland is responsible for the cold burst, encompassing the majority of the Northern Hemisphere.

"This arctic wave could last from now into February," Andrews said.

Oil prices have held near $82 a barrel Tuesday and the past two weeks have shown a 12 percent increase, with heating oil costs up 20 cents per gallon from last December.

As for gasoline prices, when global oil prices are rising, gas prices are expected to climb as well.

Increased demand on coal, natural gas and propane from the persistent cold may also cause supplies to dwindle in parts of the nation and abroad, especially as the season progresses.

According to Reuters, many cities in the eastern half of China already have mandatory rationing and voluntary conservation measures in place due to a spike in demand in a pre-existing tight supply.

Story by writer Carly Porter and Senior Expert Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski

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