FREDERICTON, N.B. – The future of shale gas in New Brunswick was top of mind among many companies, scientists and researchers at the 2014 Exploration, Mining and Petroleum conference held in Fredericton this week.
But the conference’s platinum sponsor, natural gas development company SWN Resources, decided against attending. The company’s work has been subject to ongoing protest by opponents of shale gas development in the province.
“We’re an active player in the province, we want to keep working in the province so you know, we felt it was important for us to be here. They made their own choice, but we’re here to do more work,” said Steve Moran,CEO of Corridor Resources, another natural gas company who sponsored the event.
Corridor has about 30 wells drilled in the Sussex area. Many of them are vertical wells but about five are horizontally drilled. They are all fracked for natural gas.
But there is a question of what happens if the government keeps to their promise of a moratorium.
“Of course we’re a little bit worried over the short-term, but over the long-term we’re not as concerned,” Moran said. “We think government officials understand the potential of the resource here. We think that once they’ve addressed their issues in terms of health and safety that they’ll come around.”
Meanwhile, some attending the conference feel companies should be allowed to continue exploring.
“We cannot afford not to,” said David Paul, President of Aboriginal Resources Consultants. “Forty per cent of our provincial budget comes from province’s that have. They’re not going to put up with that for too much longer I think.”
Paul’s company helps bridge the gap between aboriginal communities, government and resource companies. He says he’s for “responsible development.”
“We have to determine what we have. I believe that our wealth is in the ground. I believe that the success for the province is in the ground. So we have to be able to determine what’s there. And that requires testing,” he said.
SWN announced earlier this year they hope to drill four test wells next year that will help determine the location of shale gas deposits in Queens and Kent counties.