Oil shale mined volume falls 24 percent between 2018 and 2019

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Oil shale mine interior. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Oil shale mined in Estonia fell from 15.9 million tonnes in 2018 to 12.1 million tonnes in 2019, the latter a level roughly the same as in 2016.

The 24 percent fall was reported to the cabinet Thursday in the context of the 2016-2030 national development plan for the use of oil shale.

Oil shale is mined and then refined in eastern Estonia, to produce a product which simply switches the binomial to shale oil. This oil has various applications including in plastics, but is mainly used to fire power stations, also in the east of Estonia and a practice under threat due to conflict with the EU's long-range climate change goals.

The amount of shale oil yielded in 2019 at 1.2 million tonnes actually exceeded 2018's figure of 1.1 million tonnes, despite the fall in the volume of shale mined.

The bulk of the shale oil produced, over 90 percent, gets exported.

That which stays in Estonia and is used to generate electricity accounted for a far smaller proportion of the total electricity produced in 2019 (57 percent) even than the preceding year (76 percent), and far less than in the past, when more than 90 percent of Estonia's electricity was shale oil-produced.

Electricity production by all sources in Estonia fell between 2018 and 2019, from 12,240 GWh to 7,560 GWh.

Greater attention to the environmental aspects of extraction of oil shale, such as utilizing slag and other waste products as much as possible and cutting back on water used in the process of excavation was also implemented over the period in question, BNS reports.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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