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Luisa Vieira

When Russian energy giant Gazprom shut off the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipeline for routine summer maintenance last week, Germany and the rest of the EU feared that Russian President Vladimir Putin would refuse to turn the tap back on as a way of punishing the West for sanctions against Russia.

The jitters dissipated somewhat when Nordstream went back online Thursday, albeit at 40% capacity. But Berlin and other European capitals still worry that if things go south, they’ll need to ration gas at the worst possible time: when they need it to keep homes warm during the winter. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is urging EU members to ration natural gas by 15% through next March to prepare for a likely future cut in supply.

The Europeans have long realized that over-depending on (and over-investing in) a single energy source makes them geopolitically vulnerable. But cutting off Russia and turning to the Middle East and North Africa will be anything but smooth sailing.

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