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Ambassador Speeches and Article

Oil Shale Research Cooperation MOU Signing Ceremony

Friday, February 25, 2011 | Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication

Ambassador Michael C. Polt

This is an important day for the U.S.-Estonian relationship. The agreement Minister Parts and I just signed deals with a vital ingredient of our two nations' economies - energy.

The United States and Estonia share a commitment to an energy future free of the need to burn fossil fuels. Until that day comes, we also recognize the critical role hydrocarbons will continue to play for our people, for our economies, and for our security.

While we continue to depend on fossil fuels, we need to develop the cleanest, most efficient ways to utilize these resources.

The first effort our two countries will undertake with this Agreement the Minister and I just signed will be to open a new dialogue between oil shale experts in our countries. I plan to bring American oil shale experts to Estonia this year to meet with their Estonian counterparts and forge additional links and a common understanding how oil shale exploration and usage will improve our energy security.

Estonia has developed unique experience over nearly a century of working with oil shale. By combining Estonia's expertise with the massive oil shale resources of the United States, we have an opportunity to advance the cleanest possible hydrocarbon industry.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that American oil shale holds more than 1.8 trillion barrels of recoverable oil. This is more than half of the world's total oil shale reserves and more than the world's proven conventional oil reserves. The impact of developing American oil shale could out-weigh the American shale gas revolution or the development of Canada's tar sands.

I have seen first hand how Estonia maximizes the benefits of its oil shale resources. Last year I visited Eesti Energia, its mines and production facilities. I was greatly impressed by how advanced their processes are, both in terms of shale extraction, utilization, and mitigation of environmental impact. Eesti Energia's modern technology should certainly play an important part in our oil shale energy efforts.

I am confident that through intensified cooperation, the United States and Estonia will be increasingly important partners in shaping our energy futures.