Eesti Energia CEO Sandor Liive said that if European climate policy continues on the course of strict environmental regulation, the value of Estonian oil shale could decline rapidly in coming decades.
"To the best of our knowledge, the state, as the owner of the resource, will get more value for oil shale, the faster it is used," Liive said, speaking at a conference held in Kadriorg yesterday by Eesti Energia for the company's major business clients.
"In the current situation, Estonia's oil shale resource is worth 18 billion euros, but in 30-40 years it could be zero," he said.
"To put it as simply as possible: the more oil shale we use, the richer we will be."
Economic commentator Andres Arrak said he did not believe in a dark scenario where oil shale would be completely devalued.
"We know that there is a battle of life and death in Europe and Asia right now. Europe is currently suffering from energy duties, an inflexible market and the tax burden," he said. "I think that in 2050 oil shale will be a completely acceptable energy source."
Academy of Sciences energy council member Andres Siirde said Europe's climate policy is not a "thunder cloud that Estonia can't move."
"Our scientists and lawyers should speak up more boldly in Brussels with regard to shaping climate policy, instead of just waiting for regulations to take effect."
Price rise predicted
Eesti Energia production director Karla Agan said that the price of electricity will begin rising in coming years and businesses must prepare by reducing their risks.
"The price of electiricity has declined for several years and the price will at one point begin rising again," Agan said.
"But risks will grow also due to rising prices, so in order to reduce risks you should partner up with companies whose financial situation is strong," he said.
Agan said that after the completion of Estlink 2, a second underwater power cable stretching across the Gulf of Finland, Estonia's power prices will begin to be affected by the Finnish market. The larger connection cable will probably also increase competitiveness among power traders, he said, adding that this could bring attract companies that will not survive the price hikes.