Questerre Surges as Quebec Bill Stokes Optimism Over Drilling

Questerre Energy Corp. jumped the most in more than eight years on optimism that a new Quebec bill on hydrocarbons will allow the company to start operating wells in the province.

Questerre rose 46 percent to 76 cents by the close of trading in Toronto, the most since April 2008. The Calgary-based company now has a market value of C$233 million ($177 million).

Quebec’s Liberal Party government is working to adopt a Petroleum Resources Act that will frame the development of oil and natural gas resources in the province. A vote will be held in the legislature Friday after the government announced its intention to curtail debate in the legislature.

“The two are very likely related,” Chief Executive Officer Michael Binnion said of the stock’s rise and the hydrocarbons bill. “With this new law, oil and gas projects are going to start going forward in Quebec.”

Bill 106, as the law is called, is “a necessary and critical pre-condition to being able to do operations in Quebec.” Binnion added. “It’s not sufficient by itself for us to do operations in Quebec.”

To start producing in the province, Binnion said Questerre -- which discovered hydrocarbons in the province as far back as 2008 -- still needs to win over local communities. Several municipalities in the St. Lawrence River valley would welcome drilling, he said without being more specific.

“Next year will be about getting local community acceptance,” Binnion said. “We are getting a new hydrocarbon law. Policy is on our side, the law is on our side, and the next thing we need is to get community acceptance. We’re not going to go forward until we have it.”

Once that has been secured, “there’s a potential for us to start seeing pilot applications and maybe pilot project operations as soon as 2018,” Binnion said. “I’ve heard other people say 2020, but I think 2018 is potential.”

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