Oil shale future bleak, say experts (2)

Oil shale rock (Postimees/Scanpix)
12/14/2015 4:54 PM
Category: Economy

The current situation will lead to the step-by-step contraction of the Estonian oil shale industry, says Vladislav Ponjatovski, head of a union of miners and energy workers.

Speaking on ETV+, Ponjatovski said the industry's main problem is economic ties, which mean Estonia can by in cheap foreign electricity. He said this will lead to a decline in energy production in Estonia, and a decrease in the number of people in the sector.

He said the government can do little for miners and energy workers, and for that reason, no strikes are planned. “[...] for that, one would need to cut through two 1000-megawatt cables coming from Sweden. If those cables did not exist, we would work without panic and production would be at the previous level,” he said.

Eesti Energia, the nation's largest energy producers, recently announced the lay-off of 150 people, in addition to the 114 people the company sacked a year ago due to low energy prices.

Environmental Minister Marko Pomerants said agreements reached in Paris are not unattainable for Estonia. “After 15 years changes must be made in the wider scope of things and main changes will impact getting energy from oil shale rock,” he said.

Eesti Energia CEO Hando Sutter said the company's oil shale power plants could use biomass instead, while Pomerants said biomass availability and costs could pose a problem, and how much the state is able to subsidize it. He said wood pulp could be the way to go instead.

J.M. Laats

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