VKG explores Ukrainian oil shale


11. February 2008

In December 2007, a permit was issued to VKG for exploring and mining ca 350 million tons of oil shale in the Boltõški deposit, located in Ukraine. The site at Boltõški is the only oil shale deposit with great commercial potential in Ukraine. The total volume of the Boltõški oil shale reserves is estimated at 3.8 billion tons. Due to many restrictions, the volume of exploitable reserves is substantially smaller.

The Boltõški deposit is situated ca 250 kilometres south of Kiev, in the Kamensk district of Cherkassy Oblast. In Boltõški, the oil shale bed has thicker overburden, compared to that of the oil shale deposits in Estonia – the oil shale reserves allocated for VKG are situated 40-120 meters underground. The mining methods used in Estonia cannot be implemented under the Ukrainian circumstances. The estimated calorific value of the oil shale is 2000-2500 kilocalories per kilogram (kcal/kg), which is analogous to the calorific value of the oil shale used in Estonia. The oil recovery indicators are also similar to the Estonian ones.

Jaanus Purga, Research and Development Manager of VKG: “We are familiar with Ukrainian oil shale - in previous years Ukrainian oil shale has been processed in Estonian laboratories and with Estonian test equipment on a number of occasions. Today, we know that the Ukrainian oil shale can be processed with the technologies used in Estonia. Due to specific chemical composition, the shale oil extracted from the Ukrainian oil shale needs an after-treatment that differs from the treatment used for the Estonian shale oil. Compared to the Estonian shale oil, the Ukrainian shale oil has higher calorific value and hydrogen content, as well as higher viscosity and a higher solidification point.

Our first priority is to choose the mining method appropriate to the local conditions and prepare a conceptual design for the complex oil shale processing plant to be constructed”.

Janek Parkman, Chairman of the Management Board of VKG: “The goal for the first few years is to thoroughly identify the oil shale reserves. At the same time we will get to know the local conditions and the Ukrainian legislature. A subsidiary named OOO Slantsõhim was established in Ukraine and the first 4 employees were hired for accomplishing these goal.

If everything proceeds as planned, a complex oil shale processing plant can be established in the future, capable of processing in excess of 5 million tons of oil shale a year. Ukraine is a broadly industrialized country. Therefore, any big volume by Estonian standards can be but miniscule in the Ukrainian context”.

Comment by Mr. Enno Reinsalu, Professor Emeritus of Tallinn University of Technology:
Boltõški is the most important oil shale deposit in Europe after the Estonian and Leningrad deposits. The Ukraine deposits were explored and evaluated by us thirty years ago, but the price of oil was not high enough to make the mining profitable. Today the situation on the oil market is significantly more favourable. In addition, the variety of mining machinery suitable for mining the shale layers of soft crusts, or the Boltõški type of crusts, is much broader than thirty years ago. Thus, favourable conditions for mining exist. Definitely, issues related to difficulties of water elimination, drying the ores and securing the stability of the heaps will arise. However, the technical issues of mining are of secondary importance. The crude oil processing and refining technologies are more important. In this regard the research carried out in the Institute of Oil Shale can be helpful. It is the price of both, oil products and oil shale chemical products, and the demand for them, which are the most important determiners. So far there is no sign of a decrease in the price or demand for the aforementioned products.

For additional information, please contact.

Julia Aleksandrova
Public Relations Manager of VKG
GSM +372 52 32 700
E-mail: Julia.Aleksandrova(at)vkg.ee