Bouchard exits as head of Quebec’s oil and gas association

Bouchard exits as head of Quebec’s oil and gas association by Bertrand Marotte, February 7, 2013, The Globe and Mail
Former Quebec premier Lucien Bouchard is stepping down as head of the Quebec Oil and Gas Association as uncertainty continues over the future of shale-gas development in the province. Mr. Bouchard was appointed two years ago to help improve the industry’s image, particularly with regard to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which chemicals and water are injected into the ground to release natural gas from rock formations. He is leaving following Talisman Energy Inc.’s decision to pull out of the association; it was Talisman that paid his fees.

Last October, Talisman stopped committing any more money to shale-gas exploration in Quebec. This was soon after the new Parti Québécois government expressed major concerns over the safety and environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing.

On Wednesday, the government said it will introduce an indefinite moratorium on shale-gas activities in the populous St. Lawrence Valley. The moratorium won’t be lifted until an exhaustive environmental assessment is completed that could last up to two years. Talisman spokesman Tom Neufeld said on Thursday the decision to withdraw from the Quebec Oil and Gas Association is not related to the government’s actions. … Among the factors the company cited for its exit from the lobbying group are the current low price of North American dry natural gas and Talisman’s shift in strategy to focus on core assets that generate cash in the short term. … Mr. Bouchard stepped in two years ago to replace former Hydro-Québec president André Caillé, who drew fire from critics for allegedly misinforming residents on pollution and water-contmination risks from shale-gas drilling. Mr. Bouchard continues to practice with the law firm of Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP. [Emphasis added]

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