Foreshadowed for years, French Canada said it plans to ban fossil fuel production by rejecting exploration and production development and liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports.
“The government of Quebec has taken a decision to renounce, definitively, extraction of hydrocarbons in its territory,” said Premier Fancois Legault. He announced the move in an annual State of the Province address to the province’s National Assembly.
Legault described the planned production prohibition as a recipe for prosperity in an emerging age of international consensus on preventing drastic climate change by cutting fossil fuel carbon emissions blamed for global warming.
The premier predicted energy transition to electricity would grow government-owned Hydro Quebec’s zero-emission power dams as a supplier of Canadian markets and exporter to New England states and New York.
“It is necessary to bet on our trump cards in profoundly transforming our economy,” said Legault. Hydro Quebec will not be the only winner, he added.
Hydroelectric dams “enable us to attract investment because, in future, enterprises that want to produce goods without emitting greenhouse gases are going to find in Quebec an incomparable land of opportunity,” he said.
Legault’s cabinet recently rejected the proposed Energie Saguenay terminal and Gazoduq pipeline for LNG exports. Quebec also played a role in the 2017 demise of TC Energy Corp.’s C$16 billion ($12.8 billion) Energy East plan for a cross-country oil pipeline.
Quebec has no oil or gas output. A 2018 ban on hydraulic fracturing used in unconventional production ruled that the Utica Shale formation, which extends into the province, was off limits.
The announced exclusion would stop short of ending large-scale Quebec oil and gas refining, distribution and retailing. No interference was announced against top Quebec investor-owned enterprises. They include 525,000-customer gas distributor Énergir, Valero Energy Co. and Suncor Energy Co. refineries with capacity for 372,000 b/d of oil. Also excluded would be the , Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. parent company’s motor fuel and convenience store chain.
Would-be explorer Ressources Utica, based in Quebec City, protested the announcement.
Company President Mario Levesque said allowing production would “enrich Quebec and create high quality jobs while contributing to reducing the greenhouse gases associated with importing natural gas from the United States and Western Canada.”
The firm had anticipated the prohibition decision by filing a lawsuit in August to seek compensation for losing supply development prospects in exploration and production authorizations granted by previous provincial administrations.
The Quebec fossil fuel production prohibition would exclude oil and gas supply developers from a 594,896 square-mile jurisdiction. The region is estimated to be 2.2 times the size of Texas and 1.4% bigger than Alaska.
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