Reduction of environmental effects, efficient use of resources

Protection and Efficient Use of Resources

Care for the environment is an integral part of the business culture and social responsibility strategy of the Group. Viru Keemia Grupp carries out consistent activities in the field of provision of environment safety, efficient use of natural resources, and environmental remediation. One of the most important aspects within the management of production processes in the Group are the issues of the reduction of carbon footprint, handling waste in an environmentally-friendly manner, and saving natural resources.

We pay special attention to the development and implementation of environmentally-friendly efficient innovative technologies allowing the rational use of natural resources and reducing the environmental effect as well as to preserving the climate.

Environmental goals of the Group in the long-term perspective

Reduction of the amount of greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent climate changes

Minimising the effect exerted on the environment, including by means of the application of the best possible technologies (both Petroter and Kiviter production facilities conform to the requirements pertaining to the best possible technologies, and still we are looking for the new ways of process optimization leading to the reduction of environmental effects), waste disposal, water circulation, and an increase in repeated-subsequent usage, but also by implementing the environmental investment projects and nature protection measures on a regular basis.

The implementation of measures aimed at the reduction of the load on atmospheric air, including the programme for the years 2018-2019 for the reduction of the sources of unpleasant odour on the industrial territory of Kohtla-Järve.

Environmental Footprint

For the purpose of providing a better assessment of the environmental effect of the life cycle of products and production activities, in 2018 the programme of assessment of an environmental footprint was launched in the Group. The implementation of the new method enables us to understand the effect of the production of goods and their consumption at different stages on the environment and to compare footprints for other similar products at the market. The implementation of the new method will help us to reduce the effect exerted by the products on the environment by means of life cycle analysis.

Measures Aimed at Prevention of Global Climate Changes

We share the global concern about climate changes and take due consideration of the fact that a significant amount of greenhouse emissions is generated in the course of production process, which can affect our climate and give rise to climate risks.

Within the frames of the measures aimed at prevention of global climate changes we have developed the following action plan, which includes:

  • The development of corporate reporting and management system pertaining to greenhouse emissions.
  • Programmes of enhancing energy efficiency and energy and resource preservation.
  • Target measures aimed at the rational use of the oil shale gas, cutting down on its combustion volumes, and reducing scheduled emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere.


Viru Keemia Grupp regards the reduction of the impact exerted by relevant risks on the environment as well as enhancing occupational safety as one of its main goals with strategic priority. By managing the risks for people´s life and health as well as environmental risks, the Group proceeds from the precautionary principle. *

The implementation of this principle in the Group is exercised based on the following approaches:

  • provision of safety requirements throughout the entire process of oil shale enrichment and sale of end products
  • risk management
  • bringing the environmental effect to a minimum
  • meeting the requirements in the field of occupational safety as well as the requirements of employees and contracting organisations in the field of healthcare politics.

The company works persistently in order to raise the level of productivity and environmental safety, meet the requirements established in legal acts and related to environmental protection, and consistently and efficiently reduce the negative impact on environment.

Protection of labour and the safety of the employees are of primary importance for Viru Keemia Grupp. Within the term of existence of the Group, it has accumulated extensive experience in the field of responsible operation, and relevant procedures and practices have been implemented. We regard the financing of various programmes in the field of labour protection not so much as expenses, but rather as investments into health and well-being of our employees.

* This principle is laid down in international documents as follows: 'Where a serious or inevitable danger exists, insufficient scientific grounds cannot serve as an excuse for pushing away the implementation of efficient measures for the sake of prevention of environmental damage'. (RIO DECLARATION ON ENVIROMENT AND DEVELOPMENT, June 1992).

Environmental Protection Management System

Common environmental policy

The Group has developed a common environmental policy, which is based on the following principles:

  • 1.

    We use the environmental management system that conforms to the national standard ISO 14001.

  • 2.

    We identify the environmental effects that accompany the production activities of the company and assess their conformity to legal acts and other requirements.

  • 3.

    In our everyday activities we follow the requirements prescribed in legal acts, conventions and agreements of Estonia and the European Union.

  • 4.

    We consider it important to inform the region’s institutions and population about the enterprise’s activities and possible environmental impacts of those activities.

  • 5.

    We pay special attention to the promotion of sustainable development in the company. With that purpose in mind, we recycle the materials and waste generated in the course of production process as much as possible.

  • 6.

    We do cooperation with scientific and research institutions both in the field of resolving different environmental problems and developing new technologies.

  • 7.

    We encourage our employees to improve their knowledge about the environment protection and we recognise and encourage practical use of that knowledge.

  • 8.

    We are doing hard work in the direction of boosting the value of oil shale, with the aim of creating additional value in the shape of oil shale products.

The efficiency of the environmental management system in the Group is assessed by means of reporting and analysis within the dynamics of quantitative environmental indicators.

Conformity to the ISO standard

A large share of the subsidiaries of Viru Keemia Grupp implements the international standard ISO 14001, in which the requirements pertaining to eco-management are defined. Other standards are also implemented at the companies included in the structure of the Group, such as ISO 9001, ISO 50001, and OHSAS 18001

Investments into Environmental Protection

In its activities, VKG is always striving for improving efficiency. The aim is to increase the value of oil shale to the maximum, i.e. using upthe potential of the resource completely. From the perspective of the environmental protection, it means minor environmental effect per one unit of processed oil shale and higher social and economic benefit. We believe that in order to ensure the longevity of production of shale oil, we must make investments into the development of the best possible technologies and environmental protection, take part in working out legal acts, carry out production and environmental monitoring, enhance the efficiency of production, and implement energy-efficient solutions.

In recent years, a lot of hard work has been done in the field of environmental protection. It is only in 2018 that VKG invested about 10 mln EUR into the projects related to the reduction of environmental pollution, implemented by its subsidiary VKG Oil. At the same time, the legislation of the European Union and the Republic of Estonia as well as the increasing production needs establish even higher requirements and new environmental goals for the companies within the Group. In 2018, several legal acts were adopted in the EU that regulate the trade of the emission amounts of greenhouse gases in the upcoming period (2021-2030). Besides, the analysis of assessment of the monetary value of the external effects of environmental use in Estonia, commissioned by the Ministry of the Environment, based on which the valid system of environmental charges in Estonia will be revised, is also being prepared. In 2018 the Government of the Republic decided to retain in force the valid system of calculating tariff rates for natural resource extraction right, belonging to the state, which was developed in 2016. In addition to that, an amendment to the Environmental Charges Act was adopted, in the result of which the income basis consisting of resource and environmental charges paid to local governments will be increased.

VKG divides the investments into environmental protection into two parts:

  • 1.

    the investments that reduce the effect on the environment directly

  • 2.

    the investments that reduce the effect on the environment indirectly

The investments reducing the environmental effects directly include such investments that provide immediate reduction of environmental effect. They include, for example, the so-called end-of-pipe investments (trapping equipment), the renovation of tank fleets, closing the existing sources of pollution, or the investments aimed at the reduction, waste disposal, etc.

Direct and indirect investments reducing environmental effect (mln eur)

  • Direct
  • Indirect

The investments that reduce the effect on the environment directly

In 2017, at the commission of the Environmental Inspectorate, the research carried out by the Estonian Environmental Research Centre 'The Assessment of the Ambient Air Quality, Odour Nuisance, and the Number of Pollutants in Järve District in the Town of Kohtla-Järve' was published. On its basis, VKG Oil has ordered additional measurements and the simulation of odoriferous substances on its production territory. Proceeding from the obtained results, the company has prepared a new action plan for reducing the emission of aromatic substances, which includes the activities to be carried out by VKG within the next two years with the total value ofca 1.1 million EUR. In 2018, the actions from the action plan were implemented: the heating spots at the semi-coke landfill were closed, the absorber of the preparation device for heavy oil and light- middle oil and oil warehouse absorber were united into a joint breather system.

Besides, it is of equal importance to reduce environmental effects related to waste storage. At the landfill for hazardous waste an innovative storage technology was commissioned, which prevents the spread of pollution from the body of the landfill into the environment. In 2018, the Group continued making investments into this field: the belt conveyor was built for transporting semi-coke and oil shale ash to the storage site. This way it is possible to avoid noise and dusting that accompany the use of ordinary vehicles. In 2018, the report 'The Unification of the New Landfill for Hazardous Waste, Built at the Ash Storage Site at Northern Thermal Power Plant of VKG Energia OÜ, with the State Landfill, and the Report of Assessment of the Environmental Effect of the Commissioning of the New Landfill Closing Solution' was completed, prepared by Hendrikson & Ko. This report supports the construction of the new landfill at the site of the existing landfill, which would allow to reduce the effects related to the land use and in the event of the technology to be used, every single layer of stored ash or semi-coke will provide additional cover-up for the body of the landfill.

The investments that reduce the effect on the environment indirectly

VKG makes ongoing investments into the development of environmentally-friendly technologies and boosting the efficiency of the use of resources. The planning of new activities considers BAT requirements and constantly tightening environmental standards.

In 2017 and 2018, indirect investments were made in similar amount. Over 8 million EUR was invested into the renovation of technology and refinement of production processes. In the middle of 2018, large-scale renovation works were carried out at the oil plant Petroter I belonging to VKG Oil. Those investments allow to boost the production efficiency of the entire Group, thus enhancing the value of the resource to the maximum and minimising the amount of emissions.

Enviromental expenditure (MLN EUR)


Strategic vision of reducing the impact of the Industry

The main directions in the field of environmental protection in 2012-2018 were the reduction of emissions into the atmosphere, especially of sulphides and the pollutants causing unpleasant odour, and the improvement of the quality of stormwaters and wastewaters as well as the refinement of purification technologies. Besides, we were also dealing with the issue related to the storage of oil shale and bottom ash as well as closing the wet landfill and looking for the ways of enhancing energy-efficiency.

The environmental goals for the next five years are as follows:

  • reducing the sources of pollution causing unpleasant odour, including the reduction of the amount of emissions of volatile organic compounds and sulphides;
  • more efficient and integrated monitoring of the level of air pollution caused by the Group, and more accurate forecast of the effect of the expansion of production with the help of a special model;
  • reducing the amount of emissions of sulphides and their concentration;
  • closing and upgrading old landfills for hazardous waste, in the result of which the pollution load on surface and ground waters will be reduced;
  • more efficient purification of leachate and wastewaters;
  • more efficient use of resources: improving energy efficiency, saving natural resources, efficient development of co-production;
  • minimising the effects related to extraction and finding out the information about additional ways of the utmost recycling of oil shale waste rock;
  • development of the best possible technologies of oil shale processing and refining the existing production processes.

The following studies were conducted in 2018:

  • the unification of the new landfill for hazardous waste, built at the ash storage site at Northern thermal power plant of VKG Energia OÜ, with the state landfill, and the assessment of the environmental effect of the commissioning of the new landfill closing solution;
  • the assessment of the environmental effect of the application for making changes and extending mineral resource extraction permits KMIN-053, KMIN-066 and KMIN-199AS, filed by Enefit Kaevandused and OÜ VKG Kaevandused;
  • Verification of CO2 emissions produced in the group and improvement of the system;
  • Muraka bog ecosystem monitoring;
  • Monitoring groundwater and surface water at the Ojamaa mine;
  • Monitoring groundwater at the ash storage site at Ahtme thermal power plant.

Handling production waste

An important direction in the field of environmental protection is the reduction of anthropogenic load on the environment by means of reducing the generation of production and consumption waste. Viru Keemia Grupp is developing the system of management of industrial waste, which is aimed at the optimization of the movement of waste flows, reduction of environmental footprint and relevant expenses, and using up as much waste as possible. Kõigil kontserni tootmisterritooriumidel teostatakse tootmis- ja tarbimisjäätmete eraldi kogumist.

Hazardous wastes

In the years 2015 and 2016, the increase in the amount of hazardous waste was 0.26 million tonnes compared to 2014. This is mainly due to the launch of VKG Oil's Petroter III plant and Petroter II's operation at maximum capacity throughout the year. Prior to that, Petroter II had only been in use for six months. Oil shale ash is produced as a waste in the operation of these plants.

In 2017, a new type of waste emerged - the gas purification waste containing hazardous substances (waste code 10 01 18*). Since in 2017 the Northern thermal power plant refused from using solid fuel, the waste generated in the result of sulphur separation is no longer classified as oil shale ash. Thus the main waste type generated at the Northern thermal power plant is the gas purification waste containing hazardous substances generated in the result of the sulphur separation process.

In 2019, the Department of Energy Technology at the Tallinn University of Technology and the Department of Geology at the University of Tartu carried out a research on the hazard of oil shale ashes, which found that oil shale ash is not hazardous waste, but, for the sake of comparison, this data is still represented here.

Generation of hazardous waste in the Group

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Hazardous wastes (mln t) 1,95 2,16 1,97 2,67 2,88
incl. the residues generated while cleaning the tanks (t) 330,92 509,6 27,74 5,0 50
incl. oil shale ash (t) 621 598,75 1 231 395,59 1 575 593,95 1 651 832,94 1 768 186,34
incl. semi-coke (t) 934 985,73 627 827,95 232 483,89 635 492,91 731 841,74
incl. gas purification waste (t) 0 0 0 54 742,101 60 750,28

From 2011 until 2015 there was an increase in the ratio of the amount of hazardous waste generated per one ton of output. The reason was an increase in the share of the Petroter technology (fine oil shale is processed, which has a lower fuel value and a higher content of mineral substances) and the transfer to oil shale extracted at Ojamaa mine, which also has a higher content of mineral substances. Since fine oil shale with a lower fuel value is used in the Petroter process, the amount of produced oil is also smaller. In its turn, it causes an increase in the ratio. At the same time, the Petroter technology means much more energy-efficient production, i.e. energy efficiency makes up ca 80%. It allows to use the potential of fine oil shale more efficiently than its combustion for the purpose of energy production exclusively. In 2016-2018 the ratio decreased. Consequently, as compared with 2015, regardless of an increase in production, the amount of waste decreased, due to an investment made by VKG Oil into the technology aimed at reducing the generation of phenolated water.

Generation of hazardous waste at VKG Oil AS per production unit (TONNES/TONNES)


977,283 tonnes of solid waste were deposited in 2015, which is about 13% more than in the previous year. 1,846,710.52 tonnes were deposited in 2016, which is almost 49% more than previously. In the last two years, more ash was produced due to the addition of Petroter II and Petroter III plants.

In 2017, a total of 2,342,062.17 tonnes of solid waste was stored, which is 27% more than in the last year. An increase in the amount was caused by an increase in the amount of semi-coke in that year to the pre-crisis level, since the 4th GGJ unit and the 5th GGJ unit based on the Kiviter technology were launched.

In 2018 the total amount of stored waste made up 2,560,000 tonnes. Hence an increase in the amount of stored waste by 9%. The latter was caused by the fact that throughout the entire year the 1,000-ton gas generator was in operation, and the capacity of the Petroter plants increased.

Deposited quantities of solid wastes (TONNES)

489 073
343 885
32 543
205 933
741 045
25 253
232 483
1 575 593
38 632
635 492
1 651 832
54 736
731 841
1 768 186
60 750
1 000 000
2 000 000
3 000 000
  • Semi-coke
  • Oil shale ash (Petroter)
  • Oil shale ash (Energia)
  • Gas purification waste (Energia)

Solid waste disposal charges in 2015 amounted to around 2,902,000 euros and 5,503,000 euros in 2016. About 47% higher than a year ago. In 2017, the charge for depositing waste increased by 1,476,000 EUR, i.e. the amount of charges increased by 27% per year. In 2018, the storage fee increased, proceeding from an increase in the stored amount by 9%.

A direct link between production output and the increase in the volume of waste can be seen on graph. However, it is important to note that the ratio of hazardous waste generated per one tonne of production has still decreased in the last two year.

Viru Keemia Grupp uses one single area for storing waste, which is located on the industrial territory of Kohtla-Järve. Within the reporting period, no violations of the permitted effect limits were detected.

Solid wastes depositing fees(EUR)

2 146 446,31
2 902 256,52
5 503 197,34
6 979 345,27
7 631 119,52

Non-hazardous wastes

As for non-hazardous waste, the largest share at VKG is made up of the oil shale waste rock, generated in mines (it was 2,299,000 tonnes in 2018). However, VKG sends this material for recycling in full extent. The largest share of the oil shale waste rock (about 2 mln tonnes in 2017) is used as a filling material, which is produced and sold by the Ojamaa mine as a certified product.

If we rule out the oil shale waste rock, in 2018, 4.028 tonnes of non-hazardous waste was generated within the Group. As compared with the previous year, the amount has somewhat increased, mainly because of an increase in the amount of old metal. Together with the warehouse stock balance, 3,900 tonnes of old metal were sent back into circulation.

Non-hazardous wastes generated at the Group(TONNES)

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Non-hazardous wastes (t) 1 408 028 1 656 319 1 059 735 2 055 444 2 302 729
incl. construction and demolition wastes 749 560 351 459 513
incl. common wastes 365 228,5 263,5 284 283
incl. mining scrap 1 384 224 1 644 949 1 047 581 2 053 864 2 298 701
incl. old metal 11290 6283 1486 763 3 136

Reusable wastes

We mainly send the following types of waste for recycling:

  • oil shale waste rock, which is sent for sale as a filling material and for recycling in Aidu quarry,
  • phenolated water, which is used in the production of phenolic fractions and fine chemicals,
  • old metal, which is sent back into circulation.

In 2015, the amount of waste sent for recycling by the Group increased by about 4% as compared with the previous year. The increase comes mainly from oil shale ash. This type of waste was used in 2015 within the project of reclamation of VKG Energia's ash landfill. In 2016, recycling within the group decreased by 43% as recycling activities at VKG Energia's ash landfill were completed. Most of the recycling consisted of purifying phenolic water from Petroter process.

In 2017, the rate of recycling increased by 64% as compared with the previous year, which is due to the fact that phenol waters generated within the Petroter process were purified in the full extent, and also, in spite of an increase in the amount of the oil shale waste rock, 99% of it was used as a filling material.

In 2018, the rate of recycling increased for the second year in a row, this time by 6%. An increase was once again related to sending oil shale waste rock for recycling in the extent of 95%. This is how we are making our significant contribution into achieving the target aim pertaining to limestone chippings within the frames of 'The State Development Plan Pertaining to the Use of Oil Shale for 2016-2030'.

Reusable wastes (TONNES)

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Reusable wastes 2 452,1 2 558,4 1 444,2 2381,5 2 526,7
incl. phenol water 392 058 292 111 112 439 327 675 323 500
incl. fusses 0 510 0 5 50
incl. old oil 0 1,1 0 0 0
incl. semi-coke 445 912 421 894 0 0 0
incl. oil shale ash 245 170 473 445 0 0 0
incl. mining scrap 1 369 000 1 369 999 1 322 531 2 053 864 2 203 129

Within the production process, ecological monitoring is carried out, which includes the measuring of the amount of pollutant emissions and atmospheric air as well as conducting an analysis, the monitoring of surface, ground and soil waters, and the monitoring of soil. On the basis of the results of the monitoring, whenever required, measures are developed and implemented, aimed at reducing the effect exerted by production activities.

Protection of Ambient Air

One of the key directions in the field of minimising the effect exerted on the environment is reducing the amount of emissions into the atmosphere within the production processes in the Group.

CO2 emissions

In 2017, the amount of CO2 emissions was 1,239,915 tonnes, i.e. this indicator increased by 17% per year. An increase in the number of emissions is since the companies within the Group have increased their production volumes. For example, the amount of produce at VKG Energia increased by 7% and at VKG Oil by 41% respectively.

As compared with the two previous years, in 2018, an increase in the amount of CO2 emissions was moderate, below 5%. Main increase took place at VKG Oil, since the volume of production increased by 6%.


527 014
43 971
278 675
497 923
46 541
428 636
451 342
34 851
565 541
600 303
45 851
593 599
586 074
39 998
666 372
500 000
1 000 000
1 500 000
  • VKG Energia
  • VKG Oil (Old plants)
  • VKG Oil (Petroter)
  • VKG Soojus

In 2018, the amount of special emissions was the lowest in five years, due to efficient operation. This fact is also confirmed by a high average energy efficiency at Petroter plants, which makes up 90.5%.

Although the increase of production output was accompanied by an increase of CO2 emissions from Petroter plants, it is reflected in graph that specific emissions of said pollutant per one production unit (MWh) have reduced in 2015 and in 2016 and 2017 remained at a similar level. This figure was worse in 2014 due to difficulties in achieving a stable operating mode upon the launch of Petroter II plant. This issue was solved in 2015 and the efficiency of Petroter equipment has improved by about 4% in comparison to 2013. In the case of Petroter III, the stable operating mode was achieved faster, and CO2 emissions did not skyrocket upon its launch, however, the figure is slightly higher in 2016 compared to 2015. In 2018, the amount of special emissions was the lowest in five years, due to efficient operation. This fact is also confirmed by a high average energy efficiency at Petroter plants, which makes up 90.5%.

Specific emissions of CO2 per one production unit of Petroter plants


SO2 emissions

In 2017, the total amount of emissions of SO2 in the subsidiaries of the Group made up 3,568 tonnes, and in 2018, 3,823 tonnes. In comparison with the year 2015, the amount of emissions in 2016 dropped by about 68%. It was achieved due to investments made into the construction of sulphur-trapping devices at the Northern thermal power plant of VKG Energia. In 2017 and 2018, the amount of emissions of SO2 was two times smaller, as compared with 2015. A major part of SO2 emissions (about 85% of the total amount of emissions in the Group) was released in the process of combustion of generator gas generated in the course of thermal processing of oil shale at VKG Energia, semi-coke gas, and oil shale and filter coke. At VKG Oil, emissions were generated mainly in the process of combustion of gases generated as by-products in the course of production of shale oil (generator gas, semi-coke gas, separator gas) at the distillatory unit for shale oils as well as at the unit for the production of electrode coke and in the course of operation of Petroter plants.


9 264
6 596
1 472
2 202
2 558
2 500
5 000
7 500
10 000
  • VKG Energia
  • Allowed quantity (VKG Energia)
  • VKG Oil (Old plants)
  • Allowed quantity (VKG Oil, Old plant)
  • VKG Oil (Petroter)
  • Allowed quantity VKG Oil (Petroter)
  • VKG Soojus
  • Allowed quantity VKG Soojus

Three times lower emission in comparison to 2015.

In 2015, VKG Energia achieved a 22% reduction of SO2 pecific emissions. In 2016, the result improved further. During this period, two new sulphur trapping devices have been launched, which has reduced the atmospheric emissions of SO2 In graph you can see that in 2018 the number of special emissions increased, but, as compared with the year 2015, it still decreased almost by three times. In 2015 and 2017, production facilities were mainly similar, hence a significant decrease in the amount of SO2. Three times lower emission in comparison to 2015.

Emissions of SO2 per the production volume (MWh) of VKG Energia


Regardless of an increase in the oil shale processing and production volumes, we managed to keep the amount of special emissions of SO2 per unit at VKG Oil at the level of the year 2014. The amount of special emissions of SO2 per unit at VKG Energia has remained stable since 2017.

Emissions of SO2 per the production volume of VKG Oil


Air pollution fees

Until 2015, there was an upward trend with regard to ambient air pollution charges. It was caused mainly by an increase in pollution charge rates as well as in production volumes. In 2016, the air pollution charge amounted to 0.64 million euros, which is 3.2 times lower than the amount paid in 2015. This is connected to the reduction of SO2 emissions due to the launch of a new sulphur trapping system at VKG Energia's Põhja thermal power plant. Also, Lõuna thermal power plant was closed, which was an important source of SO2 The amendment to the Environmental Charges Act also made its impact, according to which the area-based coefficient of 1.5 was removed from the calculation of charges.

In 2017, pollution charges increased by 27% as compared with 2016. The latter is due to the increase in the number of emissions of SO2, which accompanied an increase in production volumes. The reason for that was an increase in the amount of emissions of SO2 that accompanied an increase in production volumes. In 2018, air pollution charges remained on the same level as in 2017. Consequently, regardless of an increase in production volumes, we managed to emit less pollutants into the environment.

Air pollution fees (EURO)

2 105 686,59
2 070 021,92
646 327,30
824 144,52
805 374,82


An increasing use of energy resources by the Group in recent years has been related to the consistent growth of the production rate within the Group. Proceeding from the principle of sustainable development, we are planning to boost the energy efficiency of production and working in the name of reduction of the use of energy resources.

Main objectives in the field of energy saving and energy efficiency:

  • increasing the energy efficiency of the activities of the companies of the Group, preserving or enhancing reliability, safety, and productive capacity;
  • reduction of negative environmental effects;
  • reduction of consumption of non-renewable energy resources.

Electricity consumption

In 2016, the energy consumption within the Group on the total made up 163, 481 MWh, in 2017 it was 199,572.34 MWh, and in 2018 it made up 211,536 MWh.

Production and purchase of electricity (MWh)

216 527
115 319
311 231
77 807
351 822
67 337
415 825
72 510
465 805
28 527
200 000
400 000
600 000
  • VKG Energia production of electricity
  • Purchase from Eesti Energialt

In 2017, the in-house needs of the Group increased significantly, since two of the Kiviter plants were re-commissioned. At the same time, it should be pointed out that the consumption of electricity by Petroter plants decreased, in spite of an increase in production volumes. There was a significant increase in the in-house needs at VKG Energia, which is obviously related to the construction of a new boiler and a turbine.

The Group's own consumption in 2018 remained at the same level, despite the launching of a 1,000-ton gas generator. In comparison with the previous years, the share of electricity output at VKG Energia within the total amount of consumption of electricity increased considerably.

Electricity consumption in the group (MWh)

110 966
17 032
3 738
150 839
48 747
128 332
21 310
4 391
176 534
58 054
163 932
24 471
2 392
163 481
63 905
166 146
41 647
4 002
4 002
199 572
76 768
94 684
103 090
2 424
3 727
211 536
78 870
200 000
400 000
600 000
  • Sales to VKG Elektrivõrgud
  • Sales to BES and Eesti Energia
  • Losses
  • Electricity sales to enterprises outside the Group
  • VKG own cosumption
  • Own consumption of VKG Energia

In 2015 and 2016, the share of Petroter plants increased significantly as part of energy consumption at VKG Oil. While in 2014 the relevant indicator made up 38%, in 2015 it increased up to 53% from the total electricity consumption at VKG Oil, and in 2016 it increased to the point of 82%. The reason was the fact that Petroter II and Petroter III plants reached a usual mode of operation. Even though an increase in the production volume was accompanied by a higher level of energy consumption, the specific energy consumption (kW/ton) per a unit of generated shale oil remained at the same level as compared with the previous year. The level of production efficiency is thus still ensured.

In 2017, the consumption of electricity at VKG Oil increased to a certain extent. However, the specific consumption of electricity (kW per ton) per one unit of the manufactured shale oil decreased by 24%. Consequently, in 2017, the production volume of shale oil was much higher, but, at the same time, electricity was used in a very thrifty way.In 2018, the specific energy consumption per a unit of shale oil increased. It was caused by the launching of a 1,000-ton gas generator and the transfer from the use of vehicles to conveyor transportation.

Electricity consumption by Kiviter and Petroter technologies at VKG Oil (MWh)

56 353
34 743
41 042
69 921
19 870
95 512
34 681
89 976
50 000
96 440
50 000
100 000
150 000
  • Electricity for Kiviter
  • Electricity for Petroter

VKG Energia consumed 41,204 MWh of electricity in 2015 and 44,869 MWh of electricity in 2016. 311,232 MWh and 351,822 MWh of electricity were generated respectively. In comparison to 2014, the share of electricity has increased, and the share of heat and steam reduced in VKG Energia's energy production. The output of heat and steam production is determined by market demand. The company has been able to react to the market situation and direct the outstanding resource into electricity generation.

In 2017, VKG Energia used 49,631 MWh of electricity for its own needs, which reaches the levels of the years 2014 and 2015. The latter is obviously due to the fact that in 2017, a new boiler and a turbine were built and launched at the Northern thermal power plant. Similarly, in 2016, growth in the share of electricity from energy yield continued, and as compared with the two previous years, it increased by 18%.

In 2018, the own electricity consumption at VKG Energia increased up to the level of 2015, while the volume of electricity production increased by 12%. This increase was related to the fact that the new capacities at the Northern thermal power plant were in full operation for the whole year for the first time ever.

Electricity and heat produced by VKG Energia (MWh)

156 927
390 775
216 527
134 246
320 858
311 231
62 329
275 323
351 822
73 829
263 678
415 825
313 542
211 144
465 805
250 000
500 000
750 000
1 000 000
  • Heat and steam for VKG own cosumption
  • Heat and steam to external consumers
  • Produced electricity

In 2015 and 2016, VKG Energia has started to consume significantly more of Petroter gas. While in 2014 this gas made up about 29% from the total amount of consumption of fuels, in 2015 it was 50%, and in 2016 it made up 70%. This was due to the launch of Petroter II and III plants, resulting in more Petroter gas, which is then directed to VKG Energia to produce heat and electricity. For the same reason, the amount of steam from Petroter has also increased. However, the input of generator gas has decreased due to changes in the production output of VKG Oil's Kiviter plants

As for the input in the field of thermal and electricity production, in 2017, the largest share was still occupied by semi-coke gas, which was at the same level as in 2016. At the same time, as compared with the previous year, the amount of generator gas increased three times, which was due to the launching of the factories operating based on the Kiviter technology. In the fourth quarter of 2017, the Group refused from burning solid fuels and moved to burning gas fuels.

In 2018, the amount of consumed fuels increased by 8%. Mainly the volume of the gas generator increased, which is in direct correlation with the launching of a 1,000-ton gas generator.

Fuel consumed by VKG Energia

51 872
10 372
96 224
4 640
17 455
110 115
7 213
57 572
1 630
41 343
165 926
20 984
45 710
163 808
64 652
45 160
168 001
73 597
55 569
100 000
200 000
300 000
  • Petroter gas
  • Filter cake
  • Retort gas
  • Natural gas
  • Oil shale
  • Steam from Petroter, 34 bar
  • Limestone gravel

Consumption of water Resources

Access to water supply, smart management of the ecosystems of pure water are of critical importance in terms of the health of the people, preservation of the environment, and long-term sustainable development. In its activities, VKG proceeds from the principles of rational use of water resources and implements measures aimed at their protection and compensation. The Group is exercising regular monitoring over surface water, spring water, and wastewater in the areas of water protection and evaluates the condition of the bodies of water in the area of its activities.

Water consumption

In 2016, the water consumption was about 4,550,000 m3, which is 375,000 m3 less than in the previous year. The decrease was due to the introduction of a new method of ash depositing which allows the replacement of lake water with wastewater from the production process.

In 2017, water consumption in the entire Group made up about 4,957,000 m3, reaching the level of the year 2015. This particular growth in water consumption was due to the restoration of production capacity (launching of the factories operating on the basis of the Kiviter technology). Wastewater released in the course of the production process was used for depositing ash, which, in accordance with the methodology, allows using lake water more efficiently.

In 2018, water consumption in the Group was 5,352,000 m3, which was the largest consumption rate within the last five years. It is directly linked to an increase in production volumes at Ojamaa mine. Proceeding from air temperature and the rate of precipitation, there was an urgent need to use cooling devices within production processes.

Water consumption at the Group (m3)

3 670 604
55 901
35 528
4 818 566
55 116
51 775
4 491 059
36 011
22 772
4 882 273
42 187
32 316
5 253 571
16 999
81 465
200 000
400 000
600 000
  • Lake water
  • Ground water
  • Mine water

Water emissions

The group's total water discharge in 2016 was 14 970 000 m3. About 80% (ca 13 million m3) ) of this resulted from the mines. Rainfall increased and the number of effluent streams at the territory of VKG Oil also increased (rainfall was 115% according to Jõhvi Meteorological Station data). At the same time, the amount of mining water decreased by 16% and wastewater by 12%.

In 2017, the total amount of water waste at the Group was 20,190,000 msup>3, and an increase of 40% was due to an increase in the amount of water waste at VKG Kaevandused. At VKG Kaevandused, mine water is generated in the course of mining operations at the Ojamaa and the Sompa mines, which is released into the environment. Mine water is not wastewater, and the water released from the sedimentation basin into the environment conforms to environmental requirements. In addition to that, the amount of wastewater on the territory of VKG Oil increased. The two latter were obviously related to the fact that for the second year in a row the amount of precipitation was above the norm (according to the data provided by Jõhvi weather station, the amount of precipitation was 106%).

In 2018, the amount of emissions into water made up 22,627,000 million m3, which was mainly due to an increase in the amount of mine drainage water at Ojamaa mine. An increase in the amount of mine drainage water was caused by the expansion of the mining area. At the same time, the amount of effluents from the territory of VKG Oil as well as the number of wastewaters were at their lowest within the past five years.

Water emissions from the Group (m3)

1 115
1 320
14 381
1 112
1 312
12 995
1 433
12 558
1 773
17 692
1 117
20 938
10 000 000
20 000 000
30 000 000
  • Waste water
  • Storm water
  • Effluent from the mine (sediment pool)

Water pollution charges

In 2015, there was a decrease in water environmental charges in the Group by about 3.5%, and in 2016 by 4.7%. The reason was mainly a decrease in the amount of effluents at VKG Kaevandused as compared with the previous years. In 2017 and 2018, water pollution charge was raised (30% and 12% accordingly), which was mainly caused by the need to pump out water from Ojamaa mine due to the expansion of underground mining.

Charge for the special use of water and effluent pollution charge (EURO)

103 924
17 951
815 423
2 249
112 535
34 294
759 982
1 290
106 363
14 985
741 808
3 622
118 810
19 925
1 083 865
3 938
115 988
12 735
1 269 943
2 148
500 000
1 000 000
1 500 000
  • VKG Energia
  • VKG Oil
  • VKG Kaevandused
  • VKG Soojus

The largest completed and ongoing environmental projects at the Group

The action plan aimed at reducing odour

In 2017, VKG Oil prepared and submitted to the Environmental Board the new action plan aimed at reducing odour. In order to develop it and map the level of odour emission at the plant, the odoriferous substances were measured and simulated within the company. Based on the research and the knowledge of the technical personnel in the given field, the measures for reducing the number of odoriferous substances were determined and the action plan was prepared with the total value of 1.1 mln EUR. The action plan aimed at reducing odour contains 5 important measures, and the company will be dealing with its implementation in 2018 and 2019. In 2018, the project aimed at dampening heated spots was completed. In the future, it will allow to reduce odour nuisance at the landfill and improve the quality of the ambient air. Besides, the absorber 200 within the equipment for preparing heavy and light-middle oil and the absorber 40 at the oil warehouse were united into a single breather system.

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In the year 2007 a new semi-coke solid waste deposit was completed, conforming to all environmental requirements; the depositing technology used excludes any seeping of stormwater into the body of the deposit. The leachate is collected into a separate water-tight pool and is treated in the regional wastewater treatment plant if necessary. Due to special inclines, the time of contact between stormwater and the deposit surface is minimal, thus minimising the pollution of stormwater. In 2012 until summer 2013, the old landfills for hazardous waste were brought into order, in the course of which they have become waterproof. In 2015, the ash storage site of VKG Energia was closed down accordingly. The process of bringing into order of old landfills reduces their environmental effect to a minimum.

Since 2016, the new depositing method has been implemented. The oil shale ash is deposited dampened, in the result of which the cemented monolithic surface emerges at the landfill, which prevents the migration of pollution from the landfill into the surrounding atmosphere. It will help to achieve the waterproof surface of the landfill, which will reduce the generation of leachate. In addition to that, it will also rule out the generation of heating areas at the landfill in the future.

In 2017, the construction of the pipe conveyor at VKG Oil started, in the result of which at the beginning of 2018 the transportation of semi-coke generated within Kiviter production was initiated right to the territory of the landfill via the enclosed system. The system allows reducing the amount of transportation by vehicles, which, in its turn, helps to reduce both the amounts of dust and emission gases considerably.

In 2016, the project of the technical solution aimed at dampening heating areas at the landfill at VKG Oil was completed, and in 2017, the preparatory works related to the implementation of the project were launched. After those works are completed, in the future odour nuisance at the landfill will be reduced, while the quality of the ambient air is going to improv.

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Reduction of air emissions from the thermal power plant

In 2017, a new, more steam boiler with a more efficient combustion mode was built at VKG Energia for gas combustion, in the result of which the gas emitting from the boiler contains less pollutants.

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Identification of oil shale bitumen and researching its properties

With the help of the Environmental Investment Centre (KIK), VKG Oil implemented the project 'Identification of Oil Shale Bitumen and Researching Its Properties'. The aim of the project is to obtain more detailed information about the composition of oil shale bitumen and, on its basis, to research its properties and a possible effect on people´s health and the environment. The project will facilitate the development of more relevant and adequate risk management measures, the implementation of which will help to manage and prevent the risks arising from using the oil shale bitumen. The project also has additional value, since its implementation will help to extend the chain of using of oil shale, in addition to the immediate produce (shale oil), also in the form of additional materials

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Heating main between Kohtla-Järve and Ahtme

In 2017-2018, VKG Soojus was dealing actively with the renovation of heat pipelines. With the help of the subsidy received from the Environmental Investment Centre, two projects were implemented, within the frames of which about 10 km of amortised heat pipelines were renovated. As a result, thermal losses within the district heating system have diminished. Smaller amount of thermal losses also means that the amount of fuel to be combusted will be decreased as well as the environmental load.

The new heating main, which conforms to all of the requirements of the best possible technology and, in addition to Järve district, also heats up Ahtme district of Kohtla-Järve town and the town of Jõhvi, was completed at the beginning of 2013. Owing to the heating main, it became possible to increase the efficiency of co-generation of heat and electricity at VKG Energia considerably, and all of the residue heat generated in the course of oil shale processing is now used up in the most efficient manner. Besides, the construction of the new heating main also allowed to close the old heat and power plant in Ahtme, which did not conform to the new environmental requirements. In 2016, additional investments were made to renovate heat pipelines.

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Reconstruction of tank farms and trapping units

Tank farms are used for depositing the liquid shale oil products on the production territory. On the total, there are 23 tanks, the total capacity of which exceeds 30,000 m3. The logic of depositing fuels is simple, i.e. the more airproof the tank is, the fewer emissions there are. VKG completed the construction of the tank farm ten years ago. In the course of construction, trapping By the end of the year 2009, an absorber for the tank fleet of shale oils was completed; this unit binds up to 70% of volatile organic compounds. Since the beginning of the year 2013, emissions of organic volatiles from the absorber of the distillation unit’s tank fleet are fully eliminated. As a result, the emission of hydrocarbons and phenols decreased considerably. In addition to the measures listed above, the thermocatalytic purification unit was installed on the absorber of the tanks at the warehouse for commercial oils, which allows reducing the number of hydrocarbons released from the tanks even more efficiently. We have also reconstructed the tank farms at other pieces of equipment, too, and made the trapping units more efficient. Investments into the construction and enhancement of tank farms exceeded 3.1 mln EUR.

In 2018, the oil warehouse absorber 40 became a part of the common breather system, in the result of which the level of substances causing odour nuisance in the area will be decreased.

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Põhja thermal power plant desulphurization system

In October 2016, the third sulphur trapping device was finished at VKG Energia's Põhja thermal power plant. The three units are connected to a single system, where flue gas from all boilers of the plant is directed to. This unique solution allows flexible adjustment of the desulphurisation system’s operation and ensures flue gas cleaning in the event of malfunction of one trapping device. As a result, we can see that in 2016, the quality of the ambient air in Kohtla-Järve improved significantly, and the total amount of the emissions of SO2 decreased by about 70% as compared with the previous year.

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Conveyor solutions in the logistics of raw material and waste

Ojamaa conveyor

A significant environmental project is the belt conveyor for oil shale, constructed by VKG Kaevandused in the years 2010-2012 to run from the Ojamaa mine to the Kohtla-Järve industrial territory. 12.5 km – a lenght of the ground conveyor that transports raw material from Ojamaa mine to Petroter and Kiviter shale oil plants. Read detailed information here. (

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Ash removal conveyor

Considering the composition of oil shale (40% of minerals), the production of shale oil using Petroter technology generates a considerable amount of ash in addition to the steam-gas mixture as a result of the pyrolysis in the reactor. Shale ash generated as waste is deposited to a landfill at VKG's production territory. In 2015, together with the third Petroter shale oil factory, we also opened the complex of ash disposal conveyors with the follow-up dampening unit, and the total amount of investments exceeded 10 mln EUR. The conveyor brings oil shale ash from the three Petroter plants right down to the depositing site. The conveyor helps to reduce the environmental burden exerted by vehicles considerably. Read detailed information here. (link

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Petroter oil plants

In the year 2009, the first Petroter oil plant was completed, allowing the use of fine oil shale for oil production. This plant has several devices for environment protection. Its chimney-stack has a continuous monitoring device for flue gases; it allows us to monitor the concentration of pollutants emitted into the atmosphere and to react immediately if any of the limits are exceeded. The plant also has a utilisation boiler for using up the waste gases and the heat resulting from those gases. The solid wastes resulting from the processing of oil shale in that plant are also more environment-friendly because the organics content of the generated ash is significantly lower and thus conforms to the requirements prescribed in the legislation

In 2016, Petroter II and III plants were launched successfully, which are similar to the first Petroter plants in terms of the main process but have been upgraded with a number of measures aimed at sustainable use of resources and following the principles of environmental protection.

  • We have upgraded the waste heat boiler, which now allows to dispose of organic substances and carbon monoxide contained in combustion gases in a more efficient manner.
  • We have upgraded our equipment (waste heat boiler, ash heat exchanger, aerofountain boiler) in a way that enables us to use in an even more efficient manner the residual heat generated within the production process, producing steam and heating water out of it.
  • We added the unit for mixing finely-dispersed ash-bearing fuel (the residue of purifying oil shale) with the circulation oil within the production chain, which allows to send the residue from oil shale purification back into the process, and there is no need for its transportation and intermediate storage. The processing in the closed system thus decreases the amount of air emissions that accompany transportation.
  • In the conclusion, over a hundred of smaller or bigger changes were made at Petroter II and III plants, all of which serve the main goal, i.e. making the process as efficient as possible. In the result, a larger amount of product can be produced from a smaller amount of raw material, which in its turn will lead to the reduction of the amount of emissions. Besides, such changes will allow to use the thermal energy generated within the process to its maximum as well as to reduce the number of regular maintenance sessions and downtime. The changes we have introduced will make the process more stable, efficient, and environmentally-friendly.

    In 2017-2018, we conducted large-scale repair and renovation works at the Petroter I plant, including the renovation of the waste heat boiler. The changes we have introduced once again promote the achievement of the goal of maximum efficiency.

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Shale oils filtration plant

VKG Oil completed a shale oils filtration plant. The implementation of the relevant process allows to eliminate several sources of atmospheric pollution and reduce emissions and production losses. As a result of implementing the new technological scheme, no hazardous liquid wastes of oil shale pitch –- are generated anymore, and instead fine-dispersed solid fuel – filter cake - is produced.

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Reconstruction of the oil separation unit

More than 2.5 mln EUR was spent on the reconstruction of the oil separation unit, which cleanses the water on the territory from the oil shale processing waste. The new floatation devices allow pre-treating of the industrial wastewater and ensure the required water quality on exit from the oil removal unit. The enhancements that have been carried out have allowed removing several sources of air emissions, in the result of which unpleasant odour diminished.

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Filter Cake Instead of Liquid Waste

Owing to the commissioning of the unit for filtering shale oils, several sources of air emissions were eliminated, and the amount of emissions and output losses was reduced. As a result of implementing the new technological scheme, no hazardous liquid wastes of oil shale pitch –- are generated anymore, and instead fine-dispersed solid fuel – filter cake - is produced.

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