Anticosti mayor applying for UNESCO heritage designation. Court orders Quebec to continue financing Petrolia’s Anticosti fracking operations, Orders monthly payments to Petrolia must continue to prevent job losses

Anticosti mayor applying for UNESCO heritage designation, The island’s mayor will submit an application for ‘Galapagos of the north’ by CBC News, Aug 23, 2016

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The mayor of Anticosti wants the island to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which he believes could help prevent oil and gas exploration from going ahead.

John Pineault describes the island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence as “the Galapagos of the north,” but it is also possibly the site of rich hydrocarbon deposits.

Anticosti Hydrocarbons — a joint venture between the Quebec government and several oil companies — is seeking to begin exploratory drilling on the island in the near future.

“Obviously, if this can help put an end to that, fine and dandy,” Pineault said, referring to his application for World Heritage status.

But he added the application wasn’t motivated solely by the prospective drilling projects.

“Even if there wouldn’t have been any oil and gas exploration on the island … we still would have taken the occasion to present ourselves as a candidate to UNESCO,” Pineault told Quebec AM.

Island’s geology is unique, mayor says

The federal government announced earlier this month that it is accepting, for the first time in 10 years, applications for World Heritage Sites. 

Pineault points to the island’s geology as a prime reason why Anticosti should be considered.

“You have an island that comes out of the water 450 million years ago,” he said.

“That happens to be a period where there was a mass extinction on Earth, and it’s a period that the geologists don’t understand why.”

The mayor said the application has the full support of the municipal council.

Heritage status could boost tourism, too

Pineault believes the designation, which sits in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, could also help promote the island’s tourism industry. Anticosti already has a provincial park where visitors can fish, hike and camp.

“We want to assure that industry on the island. So when you look at other sites that are protected by UNESCO, well, it assures that you can do that development,” said Pineault.

Based on the applications it receives, Ottawa will draw up a list of candidates. It is up to UNESCO —  the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture — to decide if any of the candidates receive World Heritage status.

There are now two World Heritage Sites in Quebec: the Historic District of Old Québec and Miguasha National Park. [Emphasis added]

Court orders Quebec to continue financing Anticosti operations, Monthly payments to Petrolia to prevent job losses must continue until both sides agree on drilling by CBC News, Jul 22, 2016

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A Quebec Superior Court judge has ordered the provincial government to help oil company Petrolia maintain its operations on Anticosti Island.

But the court also ruled the government and a private partner won’t have to hand over nearly $13 million to Petrolia, which was at the heart of its injunction demand. 

The decision will force Quebec and Saint-Aubin E & P to make monthly payments to Petrolia to prevent job losses as it waits for the two sides to resolve their impasse on exploratory drilling on Anticosti. 

It also ordered both parties to appoint an independent administrator of the project within 30 days.

Petrolia filed the injunction in an attempt to secure money it says was promised as part of a 2014 deal with the Quebec government. It was seeking $7.26 million from Quebec and $5.55 million from Saint-Aubin.

Obligation to maintain jobs

In its filings to the court, Petrolia claims that Premier Philippe Couillard has tried to derail the deal through Ressources Québec, a subsidiary of the province’s investment agency.

“There are now obligations that the partners must respect: maintain Petrolia jobs until we decide on what work will be done,” said Iya Touré, a vice-president at Investissement Québec, after the ruling on Friday.

Couillard has repeatedly criticized the 2014 deal, which was signed during the dying days of the previous Parti Québécois government, but has also said he will respect it.

Ressources Québec and Saint-Aubin (a subsidiary of French company Maurel and Prom) are partners with Petrolia in an investment venture called Anticosti Hydrocarbons, which holds the licence for exploratory drilling on the island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Petrolia and another oil company, Corridor Resources, gave up their drilling rights on the island as part of the 2014 deal, receiving in exchange a promise of financing for drilling operations under the guise of Anticosti Hydrocarbons. [Emphasis added]

Petrolia, Quebec told by judge to resolve differences outside of court, Petrolia claims Quebec is delaying handing over promised investment by Kate McGillivray, July 13, 2016, CBC News

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A Quebec judge has ordered oil company Petrolia and the provincial government to return to the negotiating table instead of ruling on an injunction request.

Petrolia had filed the request to force the government to deliver $12.8 million to the company and its partners so they can continue oil and gas exploration on Anticosti, an island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The company accused Premier Philippe Couillard of purposefully blocking the project for ideological reasons.

Couillard denied any designs to block the project and said that his government had executed the contract with Petrolia “to the letter.” [Emphasis added]

Superior Court Judge Martin Castonguay suspended the injunction hearing on Wednesday, telling Petrolia to resume discussions with the government outside of the courtroom.

The judge gave the two sides until July 21st to work out their differences. Castonguay promised to intervene if they fail to come up with an agreement.

The agreement between the provincial government and Petrolia was signed in 2014 by then-premier Pauline Marois.

At the time of the agreement with Petrolia, Marois called it a chance for Quebec to “take back its rights on natural resources” by decreasing the province’s future dependence on foreign oil.

Premier Philippe Couillard has expressed reservations about the project, and initially signalled he wouldn’t follow through on the Marois government’s commitment. But Couillard relented in March. 

“The contract is there. We have to follow it,” he said earlier this month.

“It doesn’t mean that we’re happy. We’re going to protect that unique ecosystem, I can tell you that.”

Couillard has faced criticism from environmental groups for his decision to honour the agreement with Petrolia. Environmentalists say that Anticosti’s fragile environment and endangered species will be at risk if the oil and gas exploration goes ahead. [Emphasis added]

[Refer also to:

2016 07 07: That’s some frac moratorium Quebec! Ottawa (DFO has jurisdiction) not consulted on Anticosti fracking plan to use water from endangered salmon rivers, frac waste will be dumped into Gulf of St. Lawrence

2016 06 17: “A New Step Forward!” Quebec introduces draconian oil & gas bill to give companies more rights than property owners, Days later authorizes Petrolia Inc to frack Anticosti: “This resounding success on the regulatory front is essentially due to the work of Petrolia, accompanied by the experts at SNC-Lavalin….”

2014 11 03: Corridor’s exploration on Anticosti Island will use fracking

2014 02 16: Government of Quebec partnering with the oil and gas industry to hunt for oil on Anticosti Island puts taxpayers at risk, Marois strikes $115M deal

2014 12 16: Quebec’s Premier Declares Province-wide Shale Gas Ban after Environmental Review Board (BAPE) says Fracking Not Worth The Risk, “Too many negative consequences to the environment and society…risks to air and water quality…noise and light pollution

2014 03 04: Government finds methane in drinking water wells in Gaspé, water wells are within 2 km of Pétrolia’s oil wells, one of them reported in 2012 to be leaking methane

2014 02 13: Gaspé wants Quebec government to intervene; The Quebec Superior Court agrees with Petrolia, says Gaspé municipality can’t protect its drinking water supplies from the oil and gas industry

2012 11 03: Canadian taxpayers could be on hook for Quebec fracking decision because of NAFTA Chapter 11 that protects corporations even if they risk health, the public interest and environment to take profit ]

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