putin-v2The European Union’s 28 member states have been stockpiling gas in record quantities as they prepare for the possibility that Russia may turn off the tap that provides a vital energy lifeline to the continent. And for the first time ever, Europe’s collective storage tanks are almost full – containing almost 80 billion cubic meters of gas – almost a fifth of the bloc’s yearly usage. The EU is also drawing up contingency plans that would ban companies from selling tanker cargoes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) outside Europe and order industry to stop using gas. LNG is produced by liquefying the gas to 1/600th of its original size. Concern about a European energy crisis stems from the dispute between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea and eastern Ukraine. This prompted Moscow to halt gas supplies to Ukraine in June and talks to settle the dispute have since broken down. More