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New Brunswick Anti-Shale Blockade Partially Lifted

Anti-shale protesters have taken down part of a barricade across a highway in New Brunswick but continue to block access to a facility where Southwestern Energy Co. (SWN) parks vehicles and seismic equipment.

According to reports, trees that were cut down on Sept. 30 to block Highway 134 near Rexton, NB, were removed by the protesters on Friday, with assistance by the province's Department of Transportation and Infrastructure. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said Friday that a single lane of traffic had been reopened.

In an effort to gain access to its facility, SWN applied for an injunction against the protesters on Oct. 2. The Court of Queen's Bench of New Brunswick granted the injunction on Oct. 3, but the protesters refused to move. The court granted the company's request to extend the injunction until Oct. 21, and scheduled a hearing for Friday to discuss another extension, if necessary.

SWN executives did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday. A report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said the company told the court that it was losing $60,000 every day that it could not gain access to its trucks and seismic equipment.

Premier David Alward, cabinet ministers and members of the Elsipogtog First Nation began negotiations to end the standoff on Oct. 6 (see Shale Daily,Oct. 9).

New Brunswick is home to the prospective Frederick Brook Shale. The emerging play lies beneath the Hiram Brook tight gas sands in both the Sussex and Elgin sub-basins (see Shale Daily,Dec. 7, 2010).

In August 2011, SWN decided to halt seismic testing in the province after a wave of threats, protests and acts of vandalism (see Shale Daily,Aug. 25, 2011).

Last February, the Alward government unveiled new rules for oil and natural gas development, including a requirement that operators disclose all of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing (see Shale Daily,Feb. 20).

According to National Energy Board of Canada data, marketed natural gas production in New Brunswick has grown in recent years, but it still represents only 0.1% of total Canadian production.

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