First off, negotiations with Gaz Métro were quite tough. They had a big advantage: the only liquefaction plant in eastern Canada. There aren't many in Canada, as you know. The plant is used to liquefy natural gas solely for Quebec's heating needs. It provides gas to heat Quebec. It is important to understand that the liquefied gas is restored to its natural state in the winter and delivered through pipes. That is how homes are heated. This liquefaction plant costs hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars, but it just idles seven months of the year.
So, from Gaz Métro's standpoint, this was a worthwhile endeavour. As you know, in a year, just one truck uses as much gas as roughly a thousand homes. Gaz Métro saw a lot of potential in this. They realized it could extend beyond road transport. It could apply to ferries in Quebec, among other things. As for locomotives, it won't be long before they run on natural gas; it is simply a matter of time. Without realizing it, we opened the company's eyes to a new market. This is an important project to them, but they don't want to invest in a system without the trucks, and we won't have the trucks if we don't have the system.
Two weeks ago, I was in Quebec City with Sophie Brochu. I told her that she had to use stations to attract drivers. If you tell them that a station will open on a specific date, they might buy 10 trucks. If you have a public station, more people will fill up there, a lot more than I would at my own station. In our sector, you depend on yourself; you can't depend on others. And yet, all truckers fill up at a public station, so the gas isn't lost. Otherwise, it evaporates and that causes problems.
I am, of course, putting a lot of pressure on Gaz Métro, which will need a lot more help. My worry is that giant U.S. producers and distributors will swoop in and capture the market. As a public utility, Gaz Métro has to operate within certain parameters, just like Hydro-Québec, but you know exactly what I mean.
In the commercial and retail world, it is a completely different story. You have to adapt. This is ridiculous, but a driver is not going to get off at exit 114 to fill up and then get off at exit 122 to eat and shower. The gas station has to be in the same place as the truck stop. It is silly to say, but it's just plain common sense.
You have to give a project like this commercial appeal. If you buy a car, are you going to buy gas from a station in the middle of nowhere, where there isn't a sole around? Of course not, you will go someplace with a Tim Hortons and you'll buy a coffee and a chocolate bar. That is how people work. Truckers are people too, no different. They have to be treated as such. They want to fill up somewhere with services. Otherwise, it won't work.
You have to partner with other organizations specializing in retail. That is the only way to sell natural gas. Everyone has their speciality. If someone asks me about steel products, I cannot give an answer because I don't have that knowledge. I am better off partnering with someone who makes steel. I don't have the capacity to manufacture tires, I prefer to buy them from Michelin, whose job it is to make them. The same goes for us. The same goes for gas. We need experts in distribution, networking and so forth. That's the way to make things better. Right now, that is not happening.