June 2019

The Estonian Oil Shale Industry Yearbook 2018: production records, innovations and large-scale development projects

The Estonian Oil Shale Industry Yearbook, published on 10 June, shows that the sector invested in innovation and continued with large-scale development projects. Companies produced a record 1.1 million tonnes of shale oil and mined nearly 16 million tonnes of oil shale.

In 2018, the oil shale sector employed 7,303 people and its contribution to the state budget increased by 17%, amounting to 122 million euros. Oil shale companies invested nearly 116 million euros into innovation and new technologies, while direct and indirect environmental investments amounted to nearly 55 million euros. “The industry has moved towards more efficient and clean production,” Kalle Pirk, Head of the Oil Shale Competence Centre of the Virumaa College of TalTech, noted. The largest investments of 2018 were made in energy engineering, increasing production capacity and ensuring a cleaner industry.

“Our aim, and an important consistent principle, is to add value to and extend the value chain of the oil shale industry to the maximum extent possible. Today, VKG’s value chain is the longest in Estonia and one of the longest in the world. Our technology, which has proven itself with high production indicators over the years, allows us to move forward towards developing new products, to realise the untapped potential in the valorisation of oils and retort gas and to find new smart solutions. Upon investing into environmental projects, all of this ensures the sustainability and competitiveness of the sector in the context of the global oil market,” VKG’s Vice Chairman of Board Meelis Eldermann commented.

According to Hando Sutter, Eesti Energia is ready to make an investment decision on increasing shale oil production at the end of the year. “Increased cooperation throughout the sector will ensure the sustainable development of the oil shale sector. The idea to establish a joint refining plant for producing cleaner fuel from shale oil is the first step towards that goal. The implementation of that idea is more realistic today than ever before,” Sutter added.

In order to innovate, companies cooperated with scientists. Technologies were developed and the possibilities of using the industry by-products were explored at universities laboratories. “Studying the capture and use of carbon and increasing the quality of shale oil are important research directions,” Kalle Pirk added. According to Pirk, the large-scale oil shale industry projects of recent years confirm that the research activities of the sector are of high quality.

The Estonian Oil Shale Industry Yearbook has been issued for the fifth year by Viru Keemia Grupp, the Oil Shale Competence Centre of the Virumaa College of TalTech, Eesti Energia and Kiviõli Keemiatööstus. The Yearbook was presented at TalTech on 10 June 2019 by Vice Chairman of Board of Viru Keemia Grupp, Meelis Eldermann, Head of the Oil Shale Competence Centre, Kalle Pirk, Chairman of Board of Eesti Energia, Hando Sutter, and Chairman of Board of Kiviõli Keemiatööstus,Priit Orumaa.

The Yearbook is published as a web publication in Estonian, Russian and English and is available here.