Quebec banning oil and gas development could have far-reaching impacts across the country. A revocation of permits also revokes carbon storage permits and in effect confirms ENGO arguments that carbon capture and blue hydrogen are a net negative for the climate. The decision will likely embolden Environmental Groups to use this decision by the Quebec Government as a proof point that only a ban will work. The electoral influence of Quebec means this will also have an effect on federal policy, laws, and regulations relative to Just Transition and its impacts on plans to diversify the Western Canadian economy based on carbon capture and blue hydrogen technologies.
On September 15th, it was revealed in a news story from Quebec’s La Presse that the government would be moving to permanently ban any oil and natural gas development in the province. According to the information revealed to La Presse, the Committee on Monitoring the Plan for a Green Economy will soon submit its report to the Minister of the Environment, Benoit Charette. In it will be the recommendation to ban oil and gas and revoke all permits which include carbon storage. Questerre Energy has an announced project to validate carbon capture and storage reservoirs in Quebec that would be effectively banned also.
A ban on oil and gas in Quebec is an important political victory for the Just Transition future being promoted by the current Federal Government. The key message that hydrocarbons can’t be a part of a sustainable future under any circumstances even with new carbon technologies is a major step back for the industry in Canada.
The direction being taken in Alberta to support rapid changes in carbon capture and recycling or storage technologies including blue hydrogen is facing early headwinds. The Federal Government is opposing enhanced oil recovery projects using CO2 miscible floods. Several groups in Canada and the U.S. have issued proclamations and studies bringing into question the global environmental benefits of LNG, carbon capture, and blue hydrogen. The CEO of Hydro Quebec has stated she does not believe there is a place for blue hydrogen and Quebec should exclusively look to green hydrogen. The ‘500’, a group of scientists, has condemned carbon capture as not helpful for the climate.
The recent decision to cancel the Saguenay LNG project citing the lack of evidence LNG reduces emissions from coal use in Asia was already a boost in the arm for Just Transition. A complete ban on oil and gas would be an unhelpful step in cooperation with Quebec over federal laws and regulations over oil and gas in the future.
Caisse de Depot, controlled by the Quebec Government, also just announced it will divest from companies producing oil and gas, the timing of which is coincidental with the industry policy direction being signaled by the Government of Quebec that is in direct opposition to the direction being communicated by the Government of Alberta.
Alberta maintains a long-standing friendly and open trade policy towards Quebec, its companies, and investors. The Quebec Government is pursuing a trade and energy policy that is discriminatory towards Alberta’s energy policy, companies and investors.
On October 19th, Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced in Quebec’s Assemblée Nationale that the province will move forward with this ban.
Check out our Key Messages document on Quebec’s oil and gas ban