Harsh Winter Could Force Europe to Ration Gas, Global Energy Leader Warns

Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency, said Tuesday that he was warning leaders in Europe to create backup plans in case harsh winter weather forced countries to conserve natural gas.

“I’m afraid that I cannot exclude the risk this winter that we are facing a rationing of gas,” Mr. Birol said during an interview at the World Economic Forum, the annual gathering of global business leaders in Davos, Switzerland. “I’m advising several European governments to prepare a contingency plan.”

Before the invasion of Ukraine, Russia provided nearly 40 percent of the European Union’s gas supply, and 55 percent of Germany’s. “Europe is paying for its over-dependence on Russian energy,” Mr. Birol said.

Planning by the European Union to declare an embargo of oil from Russia, which is the world’s third-largest producer of crude, has met stiff resistance from Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary. A gas embargo has so far been taken off the table.