Quebec prohibits oil and gas exploration on Anticosti Island


The Quebec Government has rolled back the oil and gas exploration programme initiated by the previous Parti Quebecois administration on Anticosti Island.

The programme was started in 2014 and directed at evaluating the hydrocarbon potential on the eastern Quebec Island.

Quebec natural resources minister Pierre Arcand told The Canadian Press that the decision will support the island’s bid to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Arcand said: “It was clear to us that it was very difficult both to exploit the hydrocarbons and at the same time to apply to UNESCO for Anticosti.”

In the launch year, $115m was allocated towards the programme, which was estimated to produce 46 billion barrels.

Local pressure groups, including environmental groups and residents of the island, opposed exploration activities in the region.

"It was clear to us that it was very difficult both to exploit the hydrocarbons and at the same time to apply to UNESCO for Anticosti."

Non-governmental organisation Equiterre’s Steven Guilbeault said: “Allowing oil companies to draw millions of litres of water, to dig thousands of oil wells, to inject chemicals in the soil would have been a grave error.”

Meanwhile, the government is working out on compensating private companies operating in the region for the cancelation of the contracts.

Exploration company Pétrolia expressed its displeasure at the decision taken by the government.

Pétrolia interim president and CEO Martin Bélanger said: "Although we are deeply disappointed with this turn of events, we are still convinced, even more so than in 2014, of the potential and the importance of the Anticosti project for Quebec and for the company.

“However, at the request of the Government of Québec, we are pursuing negotiations in good faith.”