Second Level Assessment- Current Impacts

Mining Practices

Oil and Natural Gas lease rights within the Little River watershed are currently registered to both SWN Resources Canada Inc. and Headwater Exploration Inc. (Government of New Brunswick 2023a).  SWN’s lease extends from the mouth of the river a short distance upstream, going past the Rt. 112 Bridge but not reaching the first Rt. 895 bridge near Synton. Headwater’s lease is in the western portion of the watershed running much of the length upstream to about Pleasant Vale- though notably at no point does it include the river channel, just tributary streams in the hills along the ridge dividing the Little River watershed  from the Pollett.

In 2014 only a small portion of the Little River watershed around Parkindale and Prosser Brook was subject to leases, held primarily by Petroworth Resources Inc (Government of New Brunswick 2015). In July 2013 Petroworth Resources Inc. changed its name to First Sahara Energy Inc. ( 2013).  Then in December 2014 First Sahara Energy Inc. changed its name again to M Pharmaceutical Inc. and announced its intention to pursue interests in pharmaceuticals and biomedical devices ( 2014).  As a consequence, it was unclear at that time how serious this company was about developing its leases. In the intervening years these appear to have been allowed to lapse, without uptake by other parties. That is somewhat surprising considering that this is the area that was noted for bituminous shale by Bailey (1865), so these has been interest in hydrocarbons in that portion of the watershed for some time.

The Alward government made a clear Provincial commitment to promoting shale gas development in New Brunswick (Alward 2014), and controversy erupted. Shortly there after the Gallant government came into office and enacted a moratorium on expansion (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation 2014). The concern if additional wells were added, impacts would include freshwater extraction from streams, habitat destruction and sedimentation during road building, and the potential for wastewater spills contaminating surface waters. The current Provincial government under Blaine Higgs has signalled openness to shale gas in recent years (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation 2023).