TALLINN - The government at its weekly meeting failed to endorse a national development plan for the use of oil shale, the country's primary source of energy, for the years 2008-2015 that would have set the annual mining limit at 20 million tons.
The government press office said that the draft of the plan, as well as the bills of amendment to the laws on natural resources and sustainable development, needed further discussion.
Specifically, the ruling coalition wants to discuss the annual limit for oil shale extraction.
A legally binding extraction limit arises from the need to ensure sustainable use of shale oil 's Estonia's primary source of energy 's and to find possibilities over the long term to reduce extraction.
The development plan also calls for three primary uses of oil shale: production of electricity and shale oil for domestic use, processing of oil shale and adding of extra value, such as by producing motor fuel, chemical products and others, and use of oil shale in domestic cement production.
The draft says that the export of oil shale products will be allowed only in limited quantities and if it conforms to the state's interests.
Over the years 1999-2007, 18 permits for oil shale extraction have been issued in Estonia for a total of up to 23.7 million tons annually.
In accordance with EU laws on reducing greenhouse gases, Estonia will likely shut down its oil shale production in 2015.
Many lawmakers, however, are hoping that either technological advances (i.e., carbon capture) or leniency from Brussels will allow the Baltic state to maintain its oil shale-fired plants for years to come.
Estonia possesses enough oil shale, a fossil fuel, for 30 's 40 years.