Mineral deposits from modern age

Russian, American and Estonian companies keen to develop oil shale deposits in Belarus

By Olga Bekhovets

The Deputy Director of the Geology Department at Belarus’ Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Ministry, Vladimir Varaksa, informs us that Belarus is negotiating with several foreign companies. “Each has its own advantages, so it’s too early to say which will become our main partner,” he explains. Geologists are yet to determine the scope of Belarus’ oil shale reserves, without which it’s impossible to set up a new enterprise to extract and process these minerals.

In line with Belarus’ strategy for energy development, a mining and chemical enterprise to extract and process oil shale (with an annual capacity of 5m tonnes) is to be built by 2014. Belarus’ commercial reserves of oil shale are concentrated on two deposits: Lyubanskoe and Turovskoe. About 30 percent of these sites has already been surveyed and, according to estimations, Lyubanskoe alone may yield 1,223,000,000 tonnes (prospected reserves exceed 900m tonnes). Turovskoe’s reserves are estimated at 2,684,000,000 tonnes (with prospected reserves standing at about 700m tonnes).

Belarus has already announced its desire to acquire investors to develop its shale gas deposits. Theoretical evaluations are being made, with Belarusian experts holding consultations with experienced companies from Poland, Lithuania, the USA and elsewhere. Shale gas prospecting could soon be launched near Brest, overseen by Belorusneft Production Association and a Polish company. According to the National Academy of Sciences, no deposits of shale gas have previously been found in Belarus.

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