EU sanctions against Russia are likely to include oil technology but exclude kit for Russia's all-important gas sector.
The scaling back of the EU's ambitions shows the difficulty of agreeing forceful sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine without risking damage to the bloc's fragile economy.
Two sources quoted from an official letter sent to EU heads of government today outlining "an emerging consensus on some key principles".
Concerning sanctions on sensitive technologies, the letter from EU Council President Herman van Rompuy says one of the principles emerging is that restrictions on sensitive technology would only affect the oil sector, not the gas sector, because of "the need to preserve EU energy security," the sources said on condition of anonymity.
The move could be good news for Russian company Novatek, the second biggest producer of gas in the country after Gazprom, which is working with French gas giant Total and China's CNPC on the development of its Arctic Yamal peninsula liquefied natural gas export project.
Earlier this week, European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger reiterated that he had never supported the idea of sanctioning physical energy supplies, but he said sophisticated oil and gas technologies for future Russian energy production could be targeted unless Moscow acted to defuse the situation in Ukraine.
A draft document on possible sanctions yesterday also laid out a range of technologies that could be restricted, which could have delayed development of Russia's South Stream gas project to ship gas to Europe via the Black Sea.