The builders of the problem-plagued Auvere power plant have already paid €130 million in fines to Enefit Power for ongoing issues, the company revealed on Sunday. The plant was hit by an unexpected failure again on Friday.
The €600 million power station in Ida-Viru County underwent more than a month of renovations this year to make it more reliable earlier.
But, on Friday, after being put into full capacity mode it broke down after two hours. It will now need another 10 days of repair work.
The facility has faced repeated problems since it was connected to the energy grid in 2015.
Data shows it has been unable to operate for 30 percent of 2022, Sunday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported while looking into the source of the problems.
The problems stem from the design as the constructor-designer Alstom had not worked with oil shale power plants before, said Andres Vainola, head of Enefit Power.
"We are actually still cleaning up the builder-contractor mess today," he said.
Auvere's biggest problems stem from external heat exchangers which also caused the latest failure. A court case related to the problems ended last year and they can now be replaced.
"They are technologically complex and have been faulty, the builder has acknowledged the flaw, paid us the fines, and now we're fixing them," Vainola told AK.
The exchangers work under high pressure and temperatures which parts of the system called nodes cannot manage, leading to breakages.
Repairs are only a short-term solution. Two of the four have already been replaced, but the remaining parts, which need to be imported from China, have faced delays.
Vainola said Enefit Power has been working with "TalTech's best engineers, thermal engineers, mechanical engineers", Sumitomo, who have previously worked on coal-fired plants, and additional experts since it won the court case last year.
"So step by step we're updating these nodes, we're already doing it to the best of our ability, so we think we can do it," said Vainola.
It will take a team of welders and engineers approximately six weeks to replace the two heat exchangers. This work is likely to take place next summer.
Vainola said the heat exchangers exchanged cost a lot but Enefit Power has not had to pay to replace them.
"This has been paid for by the general contractor. We have received more than €130 million in fines. And if we include the modernizations, if we include the lost revenue during those periods of operation, I would say that it has largely been paid back, and there is still some money left over," he said.
Vainola said the disruption is not likely to push up energy prices.
It is hoped the power plant's problems will end when the nodes have been replaced and the facility will reach 90 percent reliability in the near future.
Editor: Helen Wright