SWN Resources wraps up shale gas testing in New Brunswick
Company issues statement thanking New Brunswickers for their support
SWN Resources Canada has completed its controversial shale gas exploration in New Brunswick.
The company issued a brief statement late Friday afternoon.
"SWN Resources Canada is pleased to announce that we have completed our seismic acquisition program in New Brunswick," it states.
There is no information on when — or if — the company will be back to do any future work.
SWN employees and contractors spent Friday packing up their equipment along Highway 11 near Rexton.
The company has spent months conducting seismic mapping of shale gas deposits in Kent County and has faced ongoing protests by people opposed to development of the industry in the province and the possible environmental impact.
Earlier this week, SWN was granted a 14-day extension of a court injunction that prohibited protesters from interfering with its work.
At the time, a company lawyer told the Court of Queen's Bench that SWN expected to be able to complete its testing within seven days, provided there were no more interruptions.
SWN was only testing about three kilometres a day due to protests, instead of the anticipated five or six kilometres, the lawyer said.
Under the court order, protesters had to stay 20 metres away from the side of roads where the company was working, and 250 metres away from the front or back of its trucks.
On Oct. 17, dozens of protesters were arrested and six RCMP vehicles were torched.
RCMP say 96 people have been arrested for interfering with SWN's activities since the company began testing in July.
Policing costs associated with anti-shale gas protests in Kent County have reached more than $4 million over the past six months, the finance minister said on Thursday.
RCMP officers have been closely monitoring protests and extra officers from other provinces have also been called in to help.
A SWN Resources official estimated in April there is a 10 per cent chance of it being feasible for the company being able to establish shale gas production in New Brunswick.
Premier David Alward and Energy Minister Craig Leonard have repeatedly stated more consultation would take place if SWN, or any other company, wants to move beyond the exploration phase and into production in the province.
Shale gas is extracted through injecting a mixture of sand, water and chemicals into the earth under high pressure to fragment shale rock and release the natural gas that is otherwise inaccessible. Opponents fear the potential impact of that process on the groundwater supply.