Bill could boost annual shale oil mining by a fourth

Viru Keemia Grupp mining operation (Postimees/Scanpix)
6/5/2015 10:23 AM
Category: Economy

The government has backed a draft bill that will allow untapped shale oil rock from the last seven years of quotas to be extracted from the ground creating more flexibility for extraction companies.

The bill seeks to amend the Earth’s Crust and the Environmental Charges Acts, which was submitted by representatives of the Reform Party, IRL, Estonian Center Party and the Social Democrats.

Since 2009, the maximum rate of shale oil extraction has been set at 20 million tons. But the annual quantity extracted has not exceeded 16 million tons.

Due to this around 24 million tons of shale oil has been left in the ground.

But the new act, put forward by the Parliament’s Environment Committee, will allow companies to mine the untouched rock. It will also split the areas between more companies allowing them to mine for shale.

Currently, the state-owned energy company, Eesti Energia, has been granted the vast majority of the 20-million tons of oil shale annual mining rights, although it leaves much of that unmined.

If the new act is passed, Viru Keemia Grupp (VKG) and others, which have a smaller share of the annual quota, could be allowed to mine the untouched oil shale rock.

VKG said if the act is passed it would also restore 300 jobs which it cut earlier this year.

The draft act will also make companies pay in advance if they want to perform extraction works within the limits of the unused quota.

This will force the companies to submit their respective applications according to their actual production capacity.

Extraction permits have been granted to the following four companies: Eesti Energia Kaevandused - a subsidiary of Eesti Energia, VKG Kaevandused, Kiviõli Keemiatööstus and Kunda Nordic Tsement.

H. Wright

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