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Petrolia’s Gagnon waiting for a meeting with Couillard

Energy company head wants to discuss premier’s comments re: not drilling on Anticosti Island.


QUEBEC — The president of energy company Petrolia Inc. says Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard still hasn’t followed up on his commitment to meet “rapidly” with him to discuss oil and gas exploration on Anticosti Island.

The premier’s pledge on Feb. 16 to getting together with Alexandre Gagnon came a day after the executive said Couillard had been making statements in the media against drilling on the island but had refused to communicate with his company.

Gagnon sent Couillard’s office an e-mail urging the premier to meet with him as soon as possible to dissipate the “confusion” and “uncertainty” caused by the remarks.

“Given what’s at stake for our partners and investors, I’m making a renewed pitch for the Feb. 16 commitment to materialize in short order,” Gagnon wrote.

Gagnon said Petrolia has been going through some tough times ever since Couillard began distancing himself from the project last December.

“We are convinced that you are able to understand the importance of this meeting, given the circumstances,” read the email.

Harold Fortin, a spokesman for Couillard, said there would be no comment until the meeting with Petrolia is confirmed.

In April 2014, the previous Parti Quebecois government took a 35% share in a limited partnership – one in which Petrolia has a 27% stake – to drill several exploratory wells on the island, located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Days later the Liberals won a majority in a provincial election.

Couillard said earlier this month it was a “serious error” for the PQ to have put public funds toward the project and to sign drilling contracts.

He said the exploratory well-drilling includes fracking, a controversial practice where a mixture is pumped deep underground in order to crack rocks and release natural gas, which risks affecting the water table.

Couillard wants the water-impact studies to be released before he sits down with Petrolia.
Gagnon says he has applied to the government for drilling permits for the island, as the exploratory work is scheduled to begin this summer.

Opposition politicians have said Couillard’s refusal to confirm he will respect the contracts creates uncertainty in the market and is bad for the province’s economy.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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