The Canadian subsidiary of a US energy firm is suing 13 anti-shale gas activists for damages it claims it suffered due to protests, according to reports.
SWN Resources Canada lost $650,000 (£407,203), including a drilling rig worth $380,000 (£238,121) which was destroyed by fire and trucks vandalised, Canadian media outlet CBC News claims.
It is believed the company was supposed to finish its exploration work for shale gas last year but will have to continue it in 2014 for data collection, according to court documents obtained by the news firm.
It claims the energy firm is losing “a minimum of $5,000” (£3,133) for every hour the machines and crews aren’t working and has already spent at least $20 million (£12.5m) to hire “a large expensive security team to protect its personnel and equipment”.
Campaigners have raised concerns over the possible development of a shale gas industry and the use of the fracking process.
Christopher Cainsford-Betty, a staff operations geophysicist for Southwestern Energy Company, the parent company of SWN is reported as saying: “Allowing the protest to continue in the same manner will put the entirety of the geophysical exploration program in danger of cancellation. The exploration of the geophysical environment has a direct benefit to the public.”
A new report published by Public Health England suggests shale gas extraction poses a low risk to public health.