Asserting that a complete moratorium on shale exploration “would limit the potential” for research, the government of the Canadian province of New Brunswick said Tuesday it intends to continue to identify and act on the opportunity for greater scientific work to be done relating to shale gas exploration.

In delivering Premier David Alward’s Speech from the Throne 2012 on Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Graydon Nicholas said all of New Brunswick’s residents rely on natural gas today in one way or another and that the province has a long history of oil and gas production.

“If the estimates for the potential amount of natural gas are accurate, it has the potential to heat every home in our province for several hundred years, and to provide a significant competitive advantage for our economy,” Nicholas said Tuesday. “Not to mention the potential for reducing green house gas emissions by displacing imported oil products that we currently use to generate electricity.”

Nicholas added that recent public dialogues have all reached the same conclusion that a complete moratorium on exploration would limit the potential for research activities to determine whether shale gas is a feasible option for New Brunswick, which is home to the emerging Frederick Brook Shale.

The possibility of a shale development moratorium has been a hotly contested debate in recent months. Louis LaPierre, a professor emeritus in biology at the University of Moncton, said last month in a report that New Brunswick should require a portion of any natural gas found in its shale plays be set aside for use in the province and should put in place a water use strategy for the shale gas industry, but it should not place a moratorium on the industry (see Shale Daily, Oct. 16).

A moratorium would not advance debate concerning the major issues surrounding the shale industry and would not provide the opportunity to address the concerns of residents, according to LaPierre’s report, The Path Forward, which was requested by the provincial government.

Nicholas said during Tuesday’s Speech from the Throne that through the work of LaPierre as well as Dr. Eilish Cleary, the New Brunswick government has engaged New Brunswickers on the issue of natural gas exploration and development. “This and other analysis will help lay out the foundation for developing our province’s natural gas resources in a safe and responsible manner,” he said. “Your government will translate this knowledge into action by developing an Oil and Natural Gas Blueprint, which will shape a vision for our natural resource sector.”