Letters to the Editor

Friday, 19 August 2011

Conflicting reports, questions on the decision to suspend shale gas exploration in NB

This publication finds it strange the government made the announcement to suspend shale gas exploration in NB until a later date after hearing recent comments.

Just yesterday, business consultant David Campbell told us in an interview two credible sources of his own told him the Alward government would likely back down on having shale gas in New Brunswick. Yet a short time later, Campbell got an e-mail saying the government had no plans to do so.

Also yesterday, Premier David Alward told protesters outside the Centennial Building shale gas would continue to move forward, and Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup has been resolute in his comments throughout the battle over shale gas in NB that it would continue to go on.

The only party not to comment on the future of shale gas in NB was SWN Resources, the company actually doing the seismic testing. It was Northrup who spoke to the media today about the company's suspension of exploration, leading us to believe the company made the decision unilaterally, letting the government tell the public for them.

But then again, a SWN employee told us during the Stanley blockade SWN would be doing seismic testing into early September anyway. Based on this, even with the suspension, the timeline for seismic work seems to follow the original plan.

So we ask, does the government know what it's doing? Some seem to be on message about shale gas going ahead, others say it will back down. We further ask, is SWN simply trying to let the government down easy by saying they will continue work at a later date, since officials seem so bent on keeping shale gas in the province? Perhaps SWN is like the proverbial boyfriend trying to slowly break up with a girlfriend in hopes of easing the pain of separation. We wonder if there is a mechanism in place in the agreement with SWN that makes provision for compensation to the province if they back out. Is that why SWN is climbing down slowly? To avoid a payout? Or, are SWN and government both trying to save face by telling the public things have stopped for now, but will continue at a later date? Finally we ask, could the people have actually won this one?


  1. I too find it extreemly odd. I wouldn't be surprised if they aren't just staying that they are leaving to turn down the heat?? Also just because SWN is "leaving" it is far from over.. there are a number of other companies doing the same thing right now... are they leaving too???


  2. SWN is required as part of the licence/lease to do a certain dollar amount of exploration every year. Their total for the 3 years was $46million I believe. Perhaps the government has let them off the hook for some of this.
    There were 2 wells to be drilled this year, SWN has just stopped seismic testing, and there are 8 other exploration companies. This is not really much of a victory....its more of the government trying to 'snow' the public into thinking they have won something.

  3. David Alward's government must be aware of how quickly this issue is taking hold of the citizens in this province.

    Based on the rapid growth of community groups in this province mobilizing against shale gas, this is going to become the largest grassroots movement that New Brunswick has ever seen.

  4. The only winners here are those who want NB to fail.