Eesti Energia to restore oil shale reserves

Oil shale mine interior.
Oil shale mine interior. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Growing demand for oil shale as a controllable source of power has sent Eesti Energia hiring to replenish its oil shale reserves. Demand for shale oil and oil shale chemistry products is driving the industry.

The restoration of jobs will begin at the group's mines, as oil shale stocks have shrunk rapidly. While oil shale reserves last fall stood at some 4 million tons, the current inventory is just half that. The old energy blocks at the power plants in Narva, previously typically only used to help cover peak demand, have been online for several months already.

"We will aim for modest surplus when we see short-term demand. It gives us a measure of flexibility," said Andres Vainola, CEO of Enefit Power.

Because existing mines will be exhausted within the next decade, the company has plans for three new mines – Estonia 2 and the Oandu and Uus-Kiviõli mines to be opened in cooperation with Viru Keemia Grupp (VKG).

Before that, an attempt will be made to move underground at the Narva quarry.

"We are aiming for after 2026 with the Narva underground mine. We will likely suspend surface mining in the area by then. We will recommission two draglines in order to be ready for switching to the underground project by late 2026," Vainola said.

Despite growing demand, the day when Eesti Energia uses more oil shale for liquid fuels and chemicals than it does for power generation is drawing near. Right now, the state company uses 60 percent of its oil shale for power generation.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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