The development of a shale gas industry in New Brunswick was one of the most controversial issues of 2013, and with the promise of another legal challenge and a provincial election the debate is expected to continue in 2014.

Chief Aaron Sock

Elsipogtog Chief Aaron Sock has promised a broader legal challenge to shale gas development in 2014. (CBC)

The Elsipogtog First Nation lost its bid for a short-term injunction against seismic testing in Nov., 2013.

Lawyers for the band argued the injunction was needed to prevent more violent confrontations between protesters and police.

They also argued that the province hadn't properly consulted with aboriginal communities on shale gas development, a legal requirement.

At that time Chief Aaron Sock promised more opposition in the coming year.

"In the big picture we're going to be regrouping and coming back with a different strategy," Sock said.

That new strategy could mean a broader legal challenge citing aboriginal and treaty rights.

It's also a strategy that could change, since Sock and his council are up for re-election in February.

Future uncertain for SWN Resources

In early December, SWN Resources Canada announced it had completed its shale gas exploration for the season, but provided no information on whether the company planned to return in 2014 to do future work.

seismic testing trucks

SWN Resources has not said whether it plans to return to New Brunswick in 2014 to continue seismic exploration or shale gas development. (Jennifer Choi/CBC)

The seismic testing by the company was the catalyst for ongoing protests, including a demonstration on Oct. 17 which ended with dozens of arrests and six RCMP vehicles being burned.

Policing costs associated with the shale gas protests in Kent County were more than $4 million dollars in 2013, according to the finance minister.

The provincial government has promised more consultation with aboriginal communities if development does go ahead in 2014, although a SWN Resources official said in 2013 that the chance of development being feasible in New Brunswick was only about ten per cent.

A provincial election set for September is expected to be another pivotal point in the shale gas debate.

Liberal leader Brian Gallant, who is currently ahead in the polls, has promised a moratorium on shale gas exploration and development.

However, during a protest in the fall of 2013 he refused to be specific about how long such a moratorium would last, saying he is waiting for two major studies on shale gas.

"There's no number," Gallant said at that time. "It's about information."