The Centre Party announced that a quick solution and government intervention was required to help mitigate the effects of proposed layoffs by state-owned energy provider Eesti Energia.
The decision was made at a crisis meeting held by the coalition majority party’s parliamentary group, with group chair Kadri Simson stating the two key issues were preserving as many jobs as possible in the oil shale sector, as well as ensuring Estonia’s energy security.
“Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas has proposed that energy production units disconnected from the energy market should remain in strategic reserve, which would ensure energy security and allow to save a number of jobs,” Simson said.
At present, several Eesti Energia units are not providing electricity, in part a result of an influx of cheaper electricity from Russia and Belarus on to the Nord Pool trading market.
“Another option is to allow the use of biomass in addition to oil shale at the Narva power plants. The price component of carbon dioxide with that type of energy is smaller, by several times, than oil shale-generated power. These are steps which must be taken quickly to at least reduce the crisis that has hit Ida-Viru County and its workers,” Simson continued.
Estonia is subject to EU carbon dioxide quotas; Russian and Belarusian energy is not.
Eesti Energia announced earlier that it might have to make over 1,000 employees temporarily redundant over the summer. The crisis primarily hits Ida-Viru County, where the oil shale-fired power plants are located.
Dmitri Dmitrijev, chair of a parliamentary group focussing on support for Ida-Viru County, said switching from generating electricity, to producing oil, was also an option worth considering.
“Oil shale can still be mined and used. It is required in the production of oil, which will have further added value with the planned refinery. Increasing the capacity of oil production would pose an opportunity to retain employment for miners and avoid a wave of redundancies,” Dmitrijev said.
Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab is visiting Ida-Viru County next week to learn how the state can make more of an effort to support job creation in other industries in the area. Aab emphasized coexistence between older oil shale burning plants and environmentally friendly renewable sources in solving the problem, earlier in the week.
Additionally, the Ministry of Social Affairs is considering the possibility of obtaining EU funds, saying that applying to the European Globalization Adjustment Fund (EGF) may be an option. (ERR/Business World Magazine)