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Utah project frozen, says Eesti Energia CEO

Hando Sutter, CEO of Eesti Energia.
Hando Sutter, CEO of Eesti Energia. Source: (Mihkel Maripuu/Postimees/Scanpix)

CEO of state-owned energy giant Eesti Energia, Hando Sutter, said the project in the US state of Utah has been stopped and currently there is no business plan in place to continue.

The company purchased oil-shale-rock-rich land in Utah years ago, and has so far invested 51 million euros, plus pay annual upkeep of around 600,000 euros. The land has around 2.6 billion barrels of shale oil.

Sutter said only a few Eesti Energia employees are located in the United States, and they are obtaining environmental licenses. He added that these permits could be used in the future.

Sutter also said the other side of the project is the business plan and viability, which are calculated in Estonia, adding that currently, there are no plans in place.

Oil shale rock in Eesti Energia's land in Utah is easy to mine, with no need to remove earth. Sutter said the problem is the area's location. He said Eesti Energia uses the resource to produce shale oil, energy and natural shale gas but the area is far from civilization, there are no decent power grids and it takes long time to transport the oil.

Estonian grid problem

Speaking about the energy situation in Estonia, Sutter said Estonia is a sparsely populated area and only 4 percent of electricity goes through 60 percent of the rural power lines.

Eesti Energia has launched a project to test independent energy sources in rural areas. This means solar panels, a diesel generator and electricity storage facilities, with no connection to power lines.

Sutter said tests show that these solutions provide enough power for farmhouses in forests, and are cheaper than expanding the power grid.

Editor: J.M. Laats

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