Petrolia seeking injunction against Quebec and private firm over Anticosti

QUEBEC – A Quebec-based oil and gas company is seeking an injunction to force the provincial government and a private firm to invest in exploratory drilling on Anticosti Island.

Petrolia Inc. (TSX-V:PEA) says Ressources Quebec and Saint-Aubin E & P are not keeping their promise to spend money to finance the work.

Petrolia and Corridor Resources yielded their exploration permits for Anticosti Island in 2014 in exchange for the investment. That deal occurred under the previous Parti Quebecois government.

The failure by Ressources Quebec and Saint-Aubin to proceed is jeopardizing the project and could lead to numerous job losses, Petrolia said Tuesday.

The work on three wells is aimed at determining Anticosti’s hydrocarbon potential in terms of quality and volume.

Petrolia is seeking $7.26 million from Ressources Quebec and $5.55 million from Saint-Aubin.

Since attending an international climate conference in Paris last December, Premier Philippe Couillard has increasingly distanced himself from the project.

He has repeatedly stated the deal was reached on the PQ’s watch, has expressed concerns about environmental risks and has questioned the project’s economic viability.

In its injunction request, which will be heard in Montreal on Wednesday, Petrolia takes aim at the premier’s stance since late last year.

“Beginning in December 2015, the project suddenly ran into the hostility of…Philippe Couillard, who began in impromptu fashion to make it a clear objective for it to fail,” the company states.

“Mr. Couillard has issued repeated negative and prejudicial comments about the project.

“Without court intervention, the entire project is jeopardized and dozens of direct jobs and hundreds of indirect ones will be lost.”

The Quebec Environment Department gave the green light in June for the work to proceed. It requires the pumping of 30 million litres of water from waterways, including rivers that are home to salmon.

On Tuesday, Couillard again discussed the project, this time to talk about the stated intention of a native group in Quebec to seek an injunction to fight it and to set up a blockade if need be.

While opposing the idea of a blockade, the premier said Petrolia has not sufficiently consulted the natives.

“Projects involving natural resources on territory claimed by First Nations must include, at the minimum, consultations with them,” he said in Hamburg while on a trade mission.

— With files from Alexandre Robillard in Hamburg