Importance of Future Oil Shale Industry Plans for Estonia
June 8th 2009 - Oil Shale Symposium in Tallinn University of Technology
First of all, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the organisers of the symposium for their effort in bringing together such distinguished speakers and audience. We have gathered here the top experts from the world in oil-shale business and technology.
Estonia is often referred in the world as the leader in development and usage in oil-shale technologies. Indeed, our oil-shale business dates back to the 1920's, when first shale oil processing plants started their activities. Starting from 1950's, oil-shale has been intensively used for electricity production in Estonia.
Today more than 80% of oil-shale used in the world, is mined in Estonia. Oil-shale has been as the backbone to our energy system since 1950's, and even more, it has been a backbone to our independence. Electricity from oil-shale and shale oil products have guaranteed, that Estonian energy sector has been able to be independent from fluctuations in the political scene and from fluctuations in international energy markets.
Such recent fluctuations have made oil-shale again as an attractive energy source for many countries and companies around the world. In parallel, we have to acknowledge the need for more environmentally sound technologies also in the oil-shale sector. And we can see in following presentations of the symposium, that we are ready now to go for much more sustainable oil-shale technologies.
Estonian Government has recently approved the electricity sector strategy and is finalising in next week discussions about the energy sector strategy in the Parliament. Both of these strategies foresee, that the oil-shale based energy production will be continued in Estonia for years to come with introduction of new environmentally sound technologies for oil-shale based electricity production and for shale oil products.
As you know, Estonia has already introduced 2 new units in fluidized bed technology for oil-shale combustion, both 215 MW in power capacity. We had a lot of doubts before these investments were made, but today we can say, that the investments into these units have been a huge success. The environmental impact has been even lower than it was firstly envisaged, the technology has proved to be very reliable and the operations are much more flexible. Therefore it is foreseen, that up to 600 MW of additional capacities will be built in Ida-Virumaa in coming years using the same technology.
In addition to investments in power sector, new shale oil retorts will be built up in the area, at least doubling current oil production volumes. Our aim is also to introduce shale oil retorting technologies, which would enable us to use shale oil products also in the transport sector.
These technologies would turn the next page in the usage of oil-shales in the world.
If today more than 70 percent of oil-shale, mined in Estonia, is used for electricity production and the rest is used for shale oil and chemical products, then in 10 years these shares will be shifted upside down: majority of oil-shale will be used in the future for oil production and less for electricity production.
Introduction of these new technologies will be the largest investment into the Estonian energy system in this century. We expect that the efficiency of the usage of oil-shale and the quality of the products will increase substantially, environmental requirements will be fulfilled, new jobs will be created and the independence in energy supplies will remain for Estonia. All of these aspects are crucial for Estonian economy also during the current economic downturn.
Estonia has gathered important know-how in oil-shale technologies and the Government is continuing to support the development of this know-how. All these developments in technologies are supported by the universities and local municipalities. Oil-shale know-how has proved to be the competitive advantage for Estonia and is worthwhile to be developed.
I would like to conclude my intervention by stating, that Estonia is very much open to the world to share its experiences in the oil-shale sector. As we all know, oil-shales around the world are very different, but by sharing the know-how we can always find better solutions for everyone.
Thank you for your attention!