The European Union could ban gas exports and limit industrial use as part of emergency measures to protect household energy supplies this winter, a source told Reuters, as it braces for a possible halt in Russian gas as a result of the Ukraine crisis.
Russia is Europe's biggest supplier of oil, coal and natural gas, and its pipelines through Ukraine are currently the subject of political maneuvering - not for the first time - as Europe and Moscow clash over the latter's military action in Ukraine.
Kiev is warning that Russia plans to halt gas supplies while Moscow says Ukraine could siphon off energy destined for the European Union - which has just threatened new sanctions if Moscow fails to pull its forces out of Ukraine.
While buyers of oil and coal can find new suppliers relatively quickly, southeast Europe receives most of its gas from Kremlin-controlled Gazprom.
Tankers from Qatar and Algeria bring liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe via ports along the Atlantic and Mediterranean oceans, but European buyers often re-sell those cargoes abroad for higher prices rather than supplying their domestic market.
A source at the EU Commission said it was considering a ban on the practice of re-selling to bolster reserves.
"In the short-term, we are very worried about winter supplies in southeast Europe," said the source, who has direct knowledge of the Commission's energy emergency plans.
"Our best hope in case of a cut is emergency measure 994/2010 which could prevent LNG from leaving Europe as well as limit industrial gas use in order to protect households," the source said.