SWN Resources granted one-year extension to search for shale gas in New Brunswick
CTV Atlantic, March 16, 2015
SWN Canada has just been granted a one-year extension on licenses they have to look for shale gas in New Brunswick.
The company’s licenses were set to expire today, but the New Brunswick government granted SWN Resources permission to extend their search.
“While a license to search gives the holder rights to the area in question, it is subject to government’s proposed moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. The moratorium will remain in place until our five conditions are addressed and the risks to our health, water and environment are fully understood,” says Energy and Miners Minister Donald Arseneault.
The government says this move shows that it is still committed to the industry, with what it calls a safe and sustainable approach.
The opposition says these license extensions would’ve been worth $47 million based on what it says SWN was willing to invest.
“They’re giving them a one year, no cost, no conditions license to a company that is now gone and taking private investment, capital, and job creation,” says New Brunswick PC MLA Jake Stewart.
As far as the industry goes, shale gas supporters say a one-year extension is an empty development.
“SWN signed those original licenses in 2009 and for five years not a single well was drilled,” says Stewart.
Shale gas proponents say they’re not surprised licenses have been extended, citing legal concerns on the province’s end and other concerns for SWN.
“I’m sure they’re just as pleased not to take this project off the books that they’ve been selling to shareholders for the last four years,” says Jim Emberger of the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance.
However, Jim Emberger says the moratorium will certainly last longer than the length of this license renewal.
“It’s going to take years, so there’s no possibility of saying next year shale gas is okay, if they do that’s a political decision and has nothing to do with good public health,” says Emberger.
SWN Resources did not respond to a request for comment from CTV News.