The state is ready to back the construction of a shale oil refining plant in northeastern Estonia, Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas (Centre) said on Friday.
To what extent the government would be prepared to support such a plant has not been conclusively decided yet, Aas said, though the state's contribution would likely be less than a third of the total required investment, estimated at some €600 million.
The two options currently on the table are to support the plant using carbon dioxide quotas, or to contribute to the operator's share capital. More details can be expected some time in the fall, Aas said.
"We would like to send a message on our part to business operators that the state is prepared to support this. But on the other hand, there also has to be the readiness on the part of business operators to make this investment, because this is not about a small investment by any means," the minister added.
Aas also said that there will be fewer redundancies in Ida-Viru County than initially thought. The initial estimate was that up to 1,000 oil shale miners and energy workers may lose their jobs as a result of the slump in electricity production caused by the recently high prices of carbon emission quotas.
"If we look at the situation concerning the price of carbon dioxide now, there will definitely be changes in the energy sector. At the same time, as the state, as the owner, we have the expectation of a reserve for electricity production, which in other words means an obligation also for Eesti Energia to keep its boilers ready, which also means keeping people on as well," Aas said.
Burning biomass at Eesti Energia's power plants in the area should also contribute to somewhat lessen the blow to the economy in the area, he added.
Editor: Dario Cavegn