Energy rationalization in Europe cannot be ruled out, the head of energy giant Shell has warned, due to concerns about gas supplies from Russia, the BBC writes.

Speaking at an energy conference, Ben van Beurden said a “really tough winter in Europe” was in store and energy prices would see “significant” rises.

Energy prices jumped earlier this year after Russia invaded Ukraine. Russia has also been accused of using gas “as a weapon”, limiting supplies in response to EU sanctions.

Last month, Germany edged closer to gas rationing after triggering the “alarm” stage of an emergency gas plan to deal with shortages amid fears of a supply cut. The highest level of the plan would allow the state to intervene and set priorities in the allocation of energy to households and emergency services.

“A really tough winter is forecast for Europe”

This week, Russian natural gas deliveries to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline in the Baltic Sea were interrupted for 10 days for annual maintenance work, but there are fears that deliveries may not resume.

Italy has also reported shortfalls in gas supplies, with Italian energy giant Eni revealing last month that it was getting only half of the 63 million cubic meters per day it had requested from Gazprom.

Speaking at the Aurora Spring Conference in Oxford, van Beurden said: “It’s going to be a very tough winter in Europe. Some countries will do better than others, but we will all face a very significant escalation in energy prices.”

The EU is heavily dependent on Russian fossil fuels, with Russia supplying 40% of its natural gas. Russia also supplies 27% of the EU’s imported oil, receiving around €400 billion a year in return.

Energy prices jumped earlier this year

The EU bloc has moved to divest itself of Russian fossil fuels in response to the war in Ukraine, banning most oil imports until the end of 2022. It has pledged to cut gas imports, but has proved more difficult to agree on additional measures, such as a total ban.

Member states have tried to stockpile gas over the summer in anticipation of higher winter fuel demand, but Russia’s latest supply-cutting measures have deepened concerns that the continent may struggle to build up enough reserves.

Europe’s gas stocks are 62.6% full and there are fears that it will be difficult to reach the target of at least 80% for the winter, writes Mediafax.

Several countries such as Poland, Bulgaria, Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands are no longer receiving Russian gas after refusing requests to pay in rubles.

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