TALLINN - Estonia has sealed a monumental foreign investment, purchasing a majority stake in a Jordanian oil shale company through the state-controlled power company Eesti Energia.
The purchase is also seen as a way of securing Estonia's own energy supply. The Baltic state currently produces all of its power from locally-mined and processed oil shale.
On Nov. 5, Eesti Energia announced it had purchased 76 percent of Jordan's Oil Shale Energy company at a cost of $250 000, or 3,000,000 kroons.
The company said it would "carry out a feasibility study with the goal to build a shale oil factory in Jordan." It also signed off on an agreement for the exclusive exploration rights to one third of Jordan's 300 million tons of oil shale reserve.
"The signed memorandum enables our subsidiary to explore Jordan's unused oil shale reserves and invest in Jordan should the results of research turn out to be positive," said Sandor Liive, chief executive officer of Eesti Energia.
He said the company was one of the world's few power operators, and boasted significant experience with mining and electricity production from oil shale - rocks that are fired and processed to extract petroleum.
The investment even encouraged Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves to extend an invitation to King Abdullah II of Jordan to visit Estonia next year.
Economy and Communications Minister Edgar Savisaar signed off a memorandum of understanding with his Jordanian counterpart, Azmi Al-Said Khreisat on Nov. 5, pledging to encourage economic and trade relations and develop energy resources.
Savisaar said Estonia had 80 years of experience with oil shale extraction and processing, and was ready to share its knowledge with Jordan.
Jordan is home to one of the largest deposits of oil shale in the world, most of which is unused. Former president Lennart Meri visited Jordan during his time in office and expressed a desire that the two countries become closer.
Meanwhile, Ilves also committed Estonia to backing a new nuclear power plant, to be built in Lithuania for the use of all three Baltic states.
On Nov. 6, Ilves joined other Baltic leaders in pressing ahead with plans to build the plant, which would replace the ageing Ignalina nuclear facility.
The meeting of Baltic leaders was dampened when Polish President Lech Kaczynski backed away from committing his country to the joint project.