VKG: Coalition agreement does not focus on economic growth

Ahti Asmann.
Ahti Asmann. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

According to head of Viru Keemia Grupp (VKG) Ahti Asmann, the new coalition agreement, which was unveiled this weekend, does not prioritize economic growth, and leaves the situation regarding energy and shale oil unclear. Nevertheless, VKG still intends to go ahead with the planned construction of a new mine.

"I don't understand what was decided. Someone has to decipher what exactly is meant there. This coalition agreement is quite difficult to understand. Now, somebody has to interpret it and then we have to wait for those interpretations." Asmann said.

"Overall, in the coalition agreement, everything was clear. Economic growth is not one of the priorities. The priority is biodiversity. For economists, there is nothing eye-catching. As far as our mine is concerned, (the agreement) says, that the priority is not to open new mines. There can be preferences, but at the moment, we have no other option," Asmann said.

The section of the new coalition agreement, which concerns shale oil, first states in the introduction that the incoming government does not plan to open any new oil shale mines. It instead prefers to make use of those mines, which already exist.

The energy section of the agreement says, that the coalition will separate shale oil mining from Eesti Energia. A separate company will thus be established to ensure equal access to shale oil for all market participants at a cost-based price. The agreement also states, that the coalition will give preference to the use of existing mines over the potential opening of new ones.

Asmann said, that this plan is incomprehensible to him.

"It would basically be like stepping  back to (how things were) ten years ago. In the old days, there was Eesti Põlevkivi, which was operating under the price regulations (imposed by) the Competition Authority. In those days, the Estonian economy was made open, so that everyone could compete, everyone could do their own thing. I don't understand exactly what the issue is that is being resolved now," Asmann said.

Prior to the Riigikogu elections, then Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Riina Sikkut (SDE) blocked VKG's plans to build a new shale oil mine by not given approval for the required permit.

However, according to Asman, VKG still plans to go ahead with the project. He pointed out, that as a mining permit has already been issued, the project should not be affected by the part of the coalition agreement concerning new mines.

"We still need shale (oil) to keep on operating. How somebody is going to restructure or reorganize Eesti Energia is not going to help us in any way. It is not going to solve any of our issues. We certainly think that we will continue and are expecting (to receive) the approval, which we continue to wait for. I don't see any legitimate way in which we can be restricted at this point in time," said Asmann.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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