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Sophie Brochu, president and chief executive officer of Gaz Metro, speaks during their annual general meeting in Montreal March 17, 2010.

CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/REUTERS

Quebec natural gas distributor Gaz Métrowants to tap into the potential for a natural-gas boom on Anticosti Island in the St. Lawrence River.

The company has signed a strategic agreement with Anticosti Hydrocarbons LP to develop natural-gas in the event that hydrocarbon resource extraction gets the green light.

The deal gives Gaz Métro acquisition rights to any natural gas produced from wells on Anticosti as well as for transportation and distribution to markets.

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In return, Anticosti Hydrocarbons gets access to Gaz Métro's expertise in the economic, technical and operational aspects of natural-gas transportation in an exclusive 5-year partnership.

Anticosti Hydrocarbons is a partnership between Quebec government investment group Ressources Québec Inc., Pétrolia Inc., Saint-Aubin E&P (Québec) Inc. and Corridor Resources Inc.

The Quebec government said in June it is going ahead with plans to partner with Quebec junior oil-and-gas company Junex Inc. in exploration activity on remote Anticosti.

Quebec is also seeking to establish a framework with the federal government for oil drilling in the Old Harry prospect in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

"This agreement in principle creates an important partnership for the Anticosti project. Developing associated natural gas will create positive spinoffs for Quebec and, with the new maritime strategy announced by the government, could provide a solid leg up to Quebec businesses, particularly those involved in the Plan Nord," Alexandre Gagnon, chair of the Anticosti Hydrocarbons operations committee, said in a news release Thursday.

The Plan Nord is a multi-billion dollar project to develop resource extraction north of the 49th parallel, with major investments by the Quebec government in infrastructure, transportation and energy.

Earlier this month, Quebec said it plans to invest $50-million in a new subsidiary of Gaz Métro to get liquefied natural gas to customers in more remote areas.

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