Estonia's European Commission representative Kadri Simson (Centre) said plans for a potential oil shale pre-refinery plant are not a taboo subject and need to be discussed.
Simson is the Commissioner for Energy and has spent the first two weeks in her new position attending the European Union Energy Council in Brussels, and international climate and energy meetings in Paris and Madrid.
As energy commissioner, Simson has a key role in introducing commission president Ursula von der Leyen's EU Green Deal which seeks to drastically reduce carbon emissions.
As Estonia has one of the biggest carbon footprints in the EU due to its oil shale industry this could be a tricky balancing act for Simson. In 2017, an OECD report found that between 2000 and 2014 Estonia produced the most carbon of all it's member countries and recommended it reduce its reliance on oil shale.
Estonia's big issue is that it needs to reduce oil shale energy to meet environmental requirements set by the European Union which are becoming stricter. However, despite these new rules, Simson does not consider the potential shale oil refining plan to be a taboo subject.
Speaking to Aktuaalne kaamera she said: "The fact that we are taking more value out of oil shale should certainly not be a taboo subject. Of course, every investment has to be weighed against what the potential market situation is. For pure shale oil, we know that it is used in the maritime industry, but it must be kept in mind that the European Union will impose tougher restrictions on its maritime sector than it does today."
This week, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) visited Simson in Brussels. "These opportunities should be analyzed by spring 2020. No decision has been made yet by the Estonian government to start building an oil shale pre-refinery," Ratas said.
Ratas sees wind energy as the main opportunity to reduce Estonia's carbon footprint.
The new President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has made tackling climate issues a priority and wants the EU Green Deal, for the transition to a carbon-neutral society, to be presented within the first hundred days of her term.
Von der Leyen has said she wants the EU to reduce carbon emissions by at least 50% by 2030, which is an increase on the current goal of 40% by 2030. The European Union intends to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 at the latest.
Editor: Helen Wright