Shale gas laws will be strengthened, Northrup says

Windsor Energy will not face any charges for violating the Oil and Natural Gas Act, the RCMP confirmed.

Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup is vowing to strengthen the regulations governing oil and gas companies after a company broke the rules, but will not face charges.

Windsor Energy has admitted to conducting seismic testing within Sussex on Oct. 17, before town council met to discuss the issue.

After a government investigation, Northrup forwarded a complaint about the incident to the RCMP in November.

The RCMP says it has concluded its investigation and will not lay charges because, the minister said Wednesday, nothing in the existing regulations allows a company to be punished or penalized.

Northrup added he intends to close that loophole very soon.

"I guarantee in the future, there's going to be regulations, and they'll be strong regulations against companies that if this mistake is done again we will make a decision overnight and not take weeks to do this," said Northrup.

The existing regulation states that companies must get a municipality's written permission before testing inside its boundaries.

Sussex Mayor Ralph Carr said he was surprised the provincial government sent the file to police in the first place. 

 "Well now it comes back on the government to do something. The Department of Natural Resources, they will have to impose some sort of a fine, or suspend licences or whatever authority they have," he said.

Windsor Energy president and CEO Khalid Amin declined to comment to CBC News.

Windsor's exploration licence expired in November, and Northrup said he can choose not to issue the company more permits.

Opposition leader Victor Boudreau said that's not enough, and wants a moratorium because there may be other companies in the future that run into similar issues.

Premier David Alward has indicated that he wants to implement the continent's strongest regulations on the shale gas industry.

The Progressive Conservative government has also promised to introduce a new Environmental Protection Plan in March.