The Canadian government Monday threw its financial support -- about C$18.1 million -- behind a new pipeline development in Quebec with an eye toward economic development in the region.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Monday the government will financially back a pipeline between Vallee-Jonction and Thetford Mines in Quebec.

The project will be carried out by the Gaz Metro Co., which will finance part of the venture. The project is expected to cost C$24.7 million. It will bring natural gas service to the Thetford-Mines region as early as 2012 by extending the Gaz Metro distribution network by 72 kilometers (45 miles).

"Our government cares about the interests of Quebec's regional communities, and this announcement will help stimulate economic growth in the Thetford Mines region for generations to come," Harper said.

The utility said it now has all it needs to begin the commercialization process with a view to reaching agreements with the principal natural gas users in the sector. Initially, customers are expected to come principally from the commercial, institutional and industrial sectors.

Gaz Metro serves more than 300 municipalities in Quebec. It serves 182,000 customers in Quebec and 136,000 customers in Vermont.

©Copyright 2010 Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in any form, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.