Ministry: Heating with shale oil in Narva allowed

Loading of shale oil.
Loading of shale oil. Source: Rene Kundla/ERR

The Ministry of Economic Affairs says that due to the failure of natural gas procurement, the use of shale oil for heating in Narva is justified. Since the gas supplies necessary for the winter heating period are not fully guaranteed, all heat producers who can use shale oil should do so.

Enefit Power, a subsidiary of state energy company Eesti Energia, has asked the Environment Agency for an exemption from pollutant emissions standards due to the failure of natural gas procurement, allowing it to use up to 14,893 tonnes of shale oil as its primary fuel from July of this year to the end of the next year.

The Environmental Board requested confirmation from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications that a real risk of disruption to natural gas supplies exists, which would justifying a derogation.

Timo Tatar, deputy secretary general for energy and mineral resources at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, said in his response to the Board that the possibility of gas supply disruptions is real and that an exemption would be necessary at least until the end of the upcoming heating season.

Tatar said that the Baltic States and Finland together are consuming more than 60 TWh of natural gas, whereas the yearly capacity of the Lithuanian LNG terminal is approximately 30 TWh, which means that not all of the required gas can be delivered via the terminal.

Estonia and Finland are constructing additional LNG reception capacity to make up for the shortfall, but it is not yet possible to be certain that the terminal will be completed and gas supplies will be operational. Also, it is not yet possible to order supplies to the LNG port while it is under construction.

The latest data shows that not every seller has enough gas to get through the winter. "As a result, all natural gas consumers should be cutting down their consumption as much as possible. Heat producers, for example, who are able to use alternative fuels (such as shale oil) should do so as soon as possible," Tatar said.

"Additionally, all natural gas consumers will have the option to apply energy efficiency measures to varying degrees. This will ensure that natural gas is supplied throughout the whole heating season and that the most vulnerable users do not experience interruptions in their supplies. The transition to alternative fuels will not occur overnight – sufficient time is needed to secure both the quantity and availability of fuels."

In light of this, the Ministry of Economy agrees with Enefit Power's assessment that the company needs an exemption that allows the switch to shale oil.

The ministry says it is appropriate to apply the exemption until at least the end of the heating season during the upcoming winter, or until April 30, 2023.

"This will ensure that unavoidable risks of natural gas supply security will not be transferred from Enefit Power AS, a critical service provider, to the heat customers."


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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