SWN Resources has closed its New Brunswick office in Moncton, citing uncertainty about the shale gas industry in New Brunswick.

The move comes with a provincial government-directed moratorium on shale gas drilling in place in New Brunswick.

"Uncertainty over the timetable for developing this project has reduced the need for an office in the province at this time," said SWN Resources spokeswoman Christina Fowler in a statement.

"While this uncertainty continues, we will oversee this project from our headquarters in Houston."

The Gallant government imposed a moratorium on all forms of hydraulic fracturing in December 2014 and said it would remain in place until five conditions are met.

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SWN Resources Canada has closed its office in Moncton. (CBC)

Those conditions include:

  • A "social licence" to lift the moratorium be established through consultations.
  • A process be established to fulfil the province's obligation to consult with First Nations.
  • A plan to mitigate the impacts on public infrastructure and address issues such as waste water disposal be in place.
  • Clear and credible information on the impacts of fracturing on air, health and water allows for a regulatory regime to be developed.
  • A royalty structure be established to maximize financial benefits for New Brunswickers.

Fracking commission findings

Gallant created a commission on hydraulic fracturing in March 2015 to study hydraulic fracturing and report whether the government's conditions for shale gas development in the province can be met. The commission made its report public on Feb. 26 and urged the Gallant government to make a decision about whether it will allow shale gas development or not.

The three-person commission also said the province should create an independent regulator if it lifts the moratorium.

The three-volume report also said the province needs to rebuild its relationship with aboriginal people and other citizens if it lifts the moratorium.

SWN exploration

Prior to the moratorium being imposed, SWN Resources Canada carried out seismic testing in parts of New Brunswick in 2013 in a search for potential shale gas development.

Shale gas is captured through the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which sees a mixture of sand, chemicals, water injected into the earth under high pressure to break apart shale rock and release natural gas that can't be accessed otherwise.

Exploration by SWN led to protests by people concerned about the potential impact of fracking on the environment, including potential harm to groundwater.

In the autumn of 2013, protestors established a barricade to prevent SWN Resources from accessing its exploration vehicles and equipment at a staging area near Rexton.

After a standoff lasting more than two weeks, RCMP moved in on the protestors and a violent clash erupted, resulting in dozens of arrests and five RCMP vehicles being burned.