Andres Vainola, CEO of Eesti Energia subsidiary Enefit Power, said that the company could switch from natural gas to shale oil in Narva district heating in a matter of a few hours if an official decision was made. It would also cut the price of heat in half for the city's residents.
Repair work at block 11 of the Baltic Power Plant that provides heat for the city of Narva has left the city's residents without warm water for a week. Once heating is restored, the company could immediately switch to using shale oil.
"We plan to use the gas boiler plant to generate heat and warm water for Narva residents starting from July 20-21. We have applied for a permit to use shale oil in place of gas. I remain hopeful and believe the Environmental Board will process it in expedited procedure that would allow us to save gas for winter and start using shale oil from July 20-21," Vainola said.
The CEO said that Enefit Power has not yet heard from the Environmental Board, while both the agency and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications have been working fast since the city of Narva decided to declare a gas supply emergency.
Enefit Power can switch from one fuel to the other in a matter of a few hours.
Based on the Competition Authority's prices, a megawatt-hour of heat produced using gas costs €170-180, while generating the same amount of heat using shale oil costs just €60-70. Shale oil is not used for heating under normal circumstances because of its bigger environmental impact.
Enefit Power sought to procure enough gas to heat Narva but failed. Vainola said that the company asked for bids from 12 partners but received none. National energy company Eesti Energia stands ready to sell shale oil to other heating providers.
"We have given the Estonian Stockpiling Agency and the economy ministry an indication of our means. Our message is simple - we usually sell 90 percent of our oil production in advance. There is leeway concerning 10-15 percent of our output which we could offer to the market. The sooner the government, stockpiling agency or consumers decide, the sooner we can start selling shale oil. Coming to us in October or November runs the risk of there being no more oil left," Vainola said.
Vainola suggested the emissions difference between using gas and oil shale is not massive. "The end consumer will not feel it to any notable degree. But it is a political decision and up to the Environmental Board whether we can exceed the norms," he said, adding that Enefit Power will comply with any decision.
Editor: Marcus Turovski