Montreal, March 9, 2011
– Énergir has reviewed the report submitted to the Quebec government by the Bureau des audiences publiques sur l'environnement (BAPE) on the sustainable development of the province's shale gas industry and wishes to reiterate the importance of natural gas to Quebec's economic and environmental development.
“As we have already stated, Énergir is happy that a suitable framework has been proposed to the Quebec government to allow the safe exploration and, potentially, the sustainable development of natural gas in Quebec, in accordance with all applicable environmental standards and regulations. Furthermore, Gaz Métro feels that the government's position will make it possible to compile, in a structured way, vital information on the technical and economic potential of this new industry,” said Martin Imbleau, Énergir's Vice President, Operations and Major Projects.
As an expert in natural gas distribution and energy, and a participant in the BAPE public hearing process, Énergir wishes to re-emphasize the key role that natural gas can continue to play in our energy portfolio, both in Quebec and throughout North America.
The issue of the growing importance of natural gas in Quebec is timelier than ever. Developing the potential of this industry in the province would facilitate the switch to natural gas from polluting energy sources that generate more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The rigorous assessment process initiated by the BAPE in order to fulfill the mandate assigned to it by the Quebec government indicates how important the proper oversight of natural gas production in Quebec is considered to be. Énergir acknowledges the considerable efforts undertaken by the Commission to find answers to the questions raised and issue its recommendations. Énergir offers its ongoing support and cooperation in this regard.
Overview of Énergir
With over $3.6 billion in assets, Énergir is Quebec's leading natural gas distributor. Operating in this regulated industry for over 50 years, Énergir has become the trusted energy provider to more than 180,000 customers in Quebec and 136,000 customers in Vermont while developing the skills and expertise needed to diversify beyond natural gas. In line with its prudent growth strategy, Énergir is present in the electricity distribution market in Vermont and in the development of wind power projects in Quebec. Showing a competitive spirit, Énergir is committed to its customers, partners, employees and the community. www.gazmetro.com.
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514 598-3449BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The role of natural gas in Quebec
In October 2010, Énergir presented a brief to the Bureau des audiences publiques sur l'environnement (BAPE) which, among other things, emphasized the importance of natural gas to Quebec. The three main points made in the brief focus on the reliability and safety of Énergir's network, the growth potential of the natural gas industry in Quebec and the economic and environmental benefits that could result from the development of the natural gas industry.
Natural gas accounts for nearly 11% of the energy used in Quebec. It powers our schools, our hospitals, our industries and our homes and is currently available at a very competitive price, in large part because of increased shale gas production, mainly in the United States. Higher production means a lower price, which is good news not only for Énergir customers but also for Quebec as a whole. In the past two years, the low price of natural gas has served as an incentive for many consumers to switch from heavy fuel oil. The direct result has been a reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Quebec, to the tune of nearly 0.5 million tonnes.
Quebec is therefore already reaping positive economic and environmental benefits from shale gas production. The development of the industry in Quebec in a safe, controlled manner would help keep prices low in the medium term. This would facilitate the switch to natural gas from polluting energy sources that produce more GHG emissions and would thereby improve Quebec's environmental performance.
Petroleum products such as fuel oil and diesel represent a 38% slice of the energy pie in Quebec – almost as much as electricity. Quebec holds the dubious distinction of being Canada's largest consumer of heavy fuel oil, accounting for 35% (in 2010) of national usage. Adopting natural gas as an alternative to more polluting sources of energy, such as heavy fuel oil, light fuel oil and diesel, is a meaningful and immediate contribution to the fight against GHG emissions in a wide range of sectors, including heavy transport.
Énergir continues to assert that any discussion about a society's energy requirements cannot focus exclusively on a single energy source within a limited territory. Energy and environmental matters must be looked at from a big picture perspective. Climate change is an issue that transcends borders. Using natural gas is a way to bring about an immediate reduction in GHG emissions on a global scale.
The energy sector is a complementary one. Shale gas produced in Quebec would not take the place of renewable sources of energy. Instead it would replace natural gas supplies from Western Canada or serve as an alternative to more polluting methods.