European Power Jumps on Cold Weather, Nordic at Two-Year High

European power prices jumped as Arctic weather gripped much of the region and fuel prices climbed as oil traded near a 25-month high.

Nordic electricity for next quarter extended a more than two-year high after two nuclear reactors failed to return to the grid as planned. The benchmark contract gained as much as 5.95 euros, or 8.9 percent, to 73.15 euros ($97.16) a megawatt-hour today on Nasdaq OMX Group Inc.’s commodity exchange in Oslo. It earlier rose to 73.80 euros, the highest level since September 2008. German next-year prices traded at a three-month high.

European power has gained as the cold weather that began last month continues to boost demand across northwest Europe and the deficit of water for hydro generation in Scandinavia increases. Fuel prices, which boost the cost of production, are surging to meet the increased winter consumption and oil rose on speculation the U.S. may extend stimulus measures, bolstering demand in the world’s largest consumer of crude.

“It’s still really cold and we have a huge deficit in the hydro balance” in the Nordic region, said Jonas Almquist, managing director at Bergen Energi AB, a broker for European industrial consumers. “Continental prices are also rising because of the weather and that means even higher import prices” to meet demand, he said today by phone from Stockholm.

Norway relies on hydropower, the cheapest form of electricity, for almost all its needs and Sweden meets about half its usage from running water through turbines. The electricity that can be generated under current rainfall and snowmelt scenarios is about 40 to 45 terawatt-hours less than normal for the time of year, Almquist said. That’s more than Denmark’s annual power demand of 34 terawatt-hours.

Swedish Lows

Northern Sweden was as much as 7 degrees Celsius (13 Fahrenheit) colder than average last month, the largest deviation from normal temperatures in the northern hemisphere, according to the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute. The temperatures will fall further this week, the Norrkoeping-based organization said today on its website.

E.ON AG, Germany’s biggest utility, said today the region’s biggest reactor will be halted for up to two weeks after the 1,400-megawatt Oskarhshamn-3 facility failed to return after yearly maintenance. Vattenfall AB’s Ringhals-1 also remains offline and will start tomorrow.

In Germany, baseload power for 2011 gained 1.2 percent to 51.25 euros a megawatt-hour, according to broker data compiled by Bloomberg, its highest level since Sept. 6. Baseload is delivered around the clock.

German Strikes

RWE AG, the country’s second-biggest utility, delayed the start of its 1,227 megawatt Biblis-B reactor until tomorrow at the latest instead of today, according to a company website tracking starts and stops.

Power station workers at RWE’s plants in Germany may stage strikes before Christmas, possibly as early as the week beginning Dec. 13, the Ver.di labor union said.

RWE workers will stage surprise protests at as-yet- unidentified RWE power plants as well as grid facilities and administrative offices, said Guenter Isemeyer, a spokesman for the Ver.di services union in the western state of North Rhine- Westphalia. A union commission rejected RWE’s pay offer last week.

Hard coal for next-year delivery to Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Antwerp extended a two-year high after gaining 0.5 percent to $112.25 a metric ton. The fuel in 2009 accounted for 18 percent of Germany’s power generation. The country also gets electricity from lignite, or brown coal, nuclear plants and wind and solar power.

Crude oil for January delivery earlier rose as much as 0.6 percent to $89.76 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That’s the highest intraday price since Oct. 9, 2008. It was later at $88.86 a barrel.

Bloomberg tracks power prices from brokers including GFI Group Inc., ICAP Plc, Spectron Group Ltd. and Tradition.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lars Paulsson in London at lpaulsson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at sev@bloomberg.net

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