New Brunswick's Minister of Natural Resources says he is upset about seismic testing performed in the town of Sussex Monday, just prior to a vote by the town council on the issue.
Bruce Northrup said his staff is investigating an incident in which a subcontractor working for Windsor Energy performed seismic tests for natural gas inside Sussex boundaries without getting the town's approval.
Northrup said the preemptive move could cost the company.
"We are investigating this and we will be making an announcement, a statement here in the next couple of days about Windsor Energy," Northrup told CBC News.
"I could pull their permit," he said. "If they violated the regulations and if they broke the rules of their contract then I would be willing to do that."
Northrup said he has asked his staff to get the GPS co-ordinates of the testing areas.
Seismotion, a contractor hired by Windsor Energy to do the testing, originally asked for town approval to do tests within the community, and councillors arranged a special meeting Tuesday, just ahead of the company's scheduled arrival.
But when Seismotion crews found themselves in Sussex two days ahead of schedule, the company decided not to wait for town consent.
The company's president Mario Levesque said waiting two days would have cost $60,000 and the trucks are due back in Alberta by Oct. 26.
Sussex is situated in an area that is believed to be a prime location for the shale gas industry. There have been a growing number of protests against shale gas exploration for the last year in the province.
The Sussex council sent an unanimous letter to the Alward government requesting the provincial government take action against the company.
Windsor Energy president Khalid Amin said his company had all the approvals it needed from the province to perform seismic testing on Highway 1 where it passes through the town.
But the minister said that's unclear. "There's a little grey area there which we have to look at as a government who is responsible for the (Department of Transportation) roads inside a municipality," Northrup said.
Even if the company didn't violate its contract, it's still a matter of principle, he added, noting that what's ironic is that Sussex wasn't necessarily opposed to shale gas development if environmental regulations were followed.