Quebec plans to invest in oil and gas projects to help Canada's second-most populous province cut its reliance on imports, Natural Resources Minister Clement Gignac said.
Hydrocarbons account for two-thirds of Quebec's annual trade deficit, about C$14 billion (Dh51.8 billion), Gignac told participants at a Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal conference on Friday. The event focused on Premier Jean Charest's plan to develop Quebec's northernmost regions, which he estimates will spark about C$80 billion in company and provincial government investments.
Finance Minister Raymond Bachand said last month Quebec plans to buy stakes in resource producing companies through its investment arm. On April 17, Investissement Quebec agreed to pay C$15 million for a minority stake in Petrolia Inc, which owns oil and gas licences on the Gaspe Peninsula in eastern Quebec.
"We intend to back dev-elopment as long as there is no fracturing," Gignac said, referring to the drilling technique of forcing chemically treated water underground to break up rock and free trapped gas.
Besides the Gaspe Pen-insula, the offshore field known as Old Harry in the Gulf of St Lawrence offers the best prospects for conventional oil reserves, Gignac said. Oil and gas production in the province probably wouldn't start for at least 10 to 15 years, he said.
Quebec also wants to invest in gas distribution. Bachand said in February that the province will pay for part of a feasibility study by Montreal-based natural gas distributor Gaz Metro on a proposed C$750 million gas pipeline to the province's Cote-Nord region.