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In the last St. Lawrence Express edition, we presented an interview with Sophie Brochu, President and Chief Executive Director of Gaz Métro. We invite you to read it here.

Ms. Brochu has been active in the energy industry for more than 25 years. She began her career in 1987 as a financial analyst for SOQUIP Sophie Brochu(Société québécoise d’initiatives pétrolières). She was promoted Vice-President in 1992. In 1997, she joined Gaz Métro, as Vice President, Business Development. In 2005, Ms. Brochu was appointed Executive Vice President. Since 2007, she has held the position of President and Chief Executive Officer of Gaz Métro.

Ms. Brochu graduated in economics from Université Laval, in Québec City, where she specialized in the energy sector. She sits on the Board of Directors of Bank of Montreal, Bell Canada and BCE Inc. Ms. Brochu is involved with Centraide of Greater Montreal. She is the Chair of Forces Avenir which promotes students involvement in their communities. She is cofounder of “ruelle de l’avenir”, a project aimed at encouraging students in the Centre-Sud and Hochelaga neighbourhoods of Montréal to remain in school. Finally, she sits on the Board of Directors of La Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon.

1. Gaz Metro has reached an agreement with the Société des traversiers du Québec (STQ) to supply fuel for its three new ferries that will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). What does this first foray into maritime transport represent for your company? 

This first contract to supply the STQ with LNG opened up a whole new market segment for us. We saw that, for some time now, natural gas has been growing in popularity as a marine fuel in Europe and elsewhere in the world. This historic agreement with the STQ confirms the genuine interest of Québec’s maritime industry in LNG.

With the arrival of its new LNG-powered ferries this year, the STQ is marking two important firsts that put Québec at the forefront of this movement. First, the MV F.-A.-Gauthier, which will ensure the Matane-BaieComeau-Godbout ferry service as of this summer and for the next 40 years, is the first LNG-powered ferry in North America, and the first LNG-powered ship in Canada, cross categories. Two other STQ ferries for the service to Tadoussac-Baie-Sainte-Catherine will be the first LNG-powered vessels built in Canada, at the Davie shipyard in Lévis.

To innovate, you always need a visionary, a pioneer to light the way for an entire industry and act as an ambassador. The STQ is one such visionary, very precious to us to help light the way for the development of this new market.

2. What potential do you see in terms of your market with Québec’s maritime industry, over the next 10 years or so?

LNG is very relevant for uses that demand high energy consumption, so it makes perfect sense for the biggest fuel consumers such as freighters, ferries, tugboats, etc. These niches, amongst others, have a great potential for LNG in Québec. Transporters from virtually every corner of the world that stop at Québec ports represent another market that could boost demand for LNG.

There are other factors to consider: the tightening of environmental standards and the new Emission Control Areas (ECA) around the world, which limit the emission rates for nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulphur dioxide (SOx). Since January 2015, the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway system has also been subject to a controlled emissions area, which will become even more restrictive in the coming years. With this in mind, shipowners have to assess their options to comply with this new reality. Liquefied natural gas offers one of the best solutions at the moment, especially when the renewal of an entire fleet is being considered. I think these new regulations were part of the STQ’s decision to opt for LNG.

3. Do you feel that Québec’s maritime industry is really going to choose liquefied natural gas as its marine fuel moving forward? Do you think this supply agreement with the STQ is just the beginning or is this a one-time deal?

We are confident that other shipowners will follow suit.

Groupe Desgagnés has already placed an order for two new LNG-powered asphalt carriers, which they should take possession of next year. Our radar tells us that most of Québec’s major maritime companies are seriously evaluating LNG as a cleaner energy solution.

Another aspect worth noting, the STQ’s order for new vessels fuelled by LNG prompted the Davie shipyard,one of Québec’s premier shipyards, to develop its LNG expertise to win the construction contract—another sign that natural gas will have a growing influence on the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes in the years ahead.

4. What other development possibilities do you see for LNG in the industrial and services sector, especially on the Côte-Nord?

Once the LNG infrastructures are accessible in ports across Québec to service the ships, we will be one step away from developing the niche market for LNG transport by ship, especially to supply coastal industrial regions, like the Côte-Nord, up to the North-of-Quebec.

While today tanker trucks continue to be used to deliver LNG to regions that are not served by the existing natural gas network, transporting LNG by ship will undoubtedly become a reality the day that volume demand and the distance to travel make it worthwhile.

5. Gaz Métro has been a member of SODES since 2013. What does being a member mean to you?

SODES is a mainstay for those of us who did not start out as part of this thriving industry. SODES was a key partner that accompanied and guided us through every step as we ventured into this new market. And SODES is still our benchmark, even today. We can’t thank you enough!