Québec’s Cabinet has requested that the Bureau d’Audiences Publiques sur l’Environnement (“BAPE”) hold public hearings beginning September 14 regarding the creation of a new oil and gas regulatory regime for Québec.

Québec currently does not produce oil and gas in significant commercial quantities, yet prospective areas for production, especially the shale gas in the Utica formation of the St. Lawrence Valley, are now fully leased.

Québec’s oil and gas resources are currently legislated under the province’s mining rules and regulations, where depending on the size of production, gas producers pay royalties of 10 to 12.5 percent. Producers must also conform to a patchwork of municipal, regional and provincial permitting laws.

The creation of a single regulatory regime would “create a fiscal and legal framework that can make a company decide to invest in Québec rather than Pennsylvania” says Québec’s Natural Resources Minister, Nathalie Normandeau.

As part of the public hearings, BAPE will conduct a review of the environmental, health and safety issues surrounding the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” a procedure where high pressure fluids are injected into rock formations to release hydrocarbons.

BAPE’s review of fracking practices falls on the heels of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launching a similar study, as well as a temporary moratorium on fracking that was approved by the New York State Senate in August and will be reviewed by the New York State Assembly in September.