Letters to the Editor

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Windsor Energy not the only one: Northrup and Fitch claim no knowledge of SWN violation

By Cheryl Norrad

In a recent essay featured in the CBC's Fractured Future, a week-long series about the shale gas industry in New Brunswick, Upper Miramichi resident Marlene McClements wrote of the community's municipal boundaries being violated by shale gas company SWN during it's seismic exploration work last summer.

"SWN did not request, nor was it provided with, written permission to carry out seismic testing in the Rural Community of Upper Miramichi," McClements wrote. "This is a direct violation of the Oil and Gas Act Regulation 86-191 Section 17:1 (OC86-1026) Dec. 1986)."

The council of the Rural Community of Upper Miramichi, along with a local group McClements belongs to, the Upper Miramichi Stewardship Alliance, are currently drafting letters of complaint, including documentation showing the violation by SWN, to inform Natural Resources of their position and to have on record in case of future legal action.

The Mayor of Upper Miramichi, Scott Clowater, said the issue was, "...a council matter" and refused to elaborate further. The call was cut off when he was asked for details. 

However, McClements said the people in her group, and many in the region, are dubious of any movement on their complaints by government, "...having witnessed Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup's response to Windsor Energy's flagrant violation of regulations in Sussex..." McClements wrote in her essay.

SWN, a Houston, Texas-based oil and gas company, is the biggest player in the burgeoning New Brunswick shale gas industry. It is a multi-million dollar company with shale gas plays all over North America. General Manager for SWN Resources Canada, Tom Alexander, was contacted for comment today, however, there was no reply as of press time.

This morning, this publication asked Municipalities Minister Bruce Fitch and Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup for comment about shale gas company SWN violating the municipal boundaries of Upper Miramichi, located near Boiestown. Both men claimed to be unaware of the situation, even though McClements essay was posted on the CBC website as part of the shale gas series last week. It was assumed Northrup was aware of the information in the essay, since he told host Terry Seguin at the end of a CBC webcast in the series that he was pleased with how fair the CBC coverage had been on the issue. Northrup and Fitch both comment on the issue as part of the video below: