Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup promises "strong action" against Windsor Energy for seismic testing without approval. (CBC)

At New Brunswick's annual conference for the mining and petroleum industry in Fredericton, New Brunswick's Natural Resources Minister said Monday he'll take "strong action" against a company that broke the rules for shale gas exploration.

Bruce Northrup acknowledged that the company had sent the government a letter of apology.

"We have had a written apology from Windsor Energy from Calgary," he said.

"We're going to send a strong statement on Wednesday. We feel that Windsor Energy has gone against us and has gone against the people of New Brunswick."

Windsor conducted seismic testing within Sussex town limits without obtaining approval from the municipality. Northrup is also the member of the Legislature for Sussex.

Mike Dawson, president of the Canadian Society for Unconventional Resources, said that New Brunswick is a challenging political landscape for oil and gas, but also a good one.

"Companies recognize that New Brunswick may be a challenging place," he said. "The New Brunswick government is taking a very measured, proactive, and positive approach towards the development of the resources.

"They're ensuring that the companies are going to have access to develop or explore for these resources and should those resources be found, they also have made a commitment to ensure that the resources are developed in an environmentally responsible manner. So that's the best of both worlds."

Mark Wies, the assistant deputy minister responsible for the province's Natural Gas Group, said the unanswered question is how much natural gas is underground.

"We understand from speaking to industry it'll probably be another year and a half or so before we have any idea exactly what type of an industry we could have in New Brunswick, what the size of that industry could be."

He said industry also must determine how accessible the gas is. "Can they get it out of the ground and can they get it out of the ground in a safe, responsible and commercially viable manner?"

Unlike other similar conferences, no opponents of shale gas have been visible to protest or gather information.