Bought by Halliburton, future unclear for Baker Hughes' fracking disclosure policy
The drilling industry awoke Monday morning to the news that two major oil field services firms would become one. Halliburton will buy Baker Hughes for $34.6 billion, a union that EnergyWire reports will “create a powerhouse in the hydraulic fracturing business.”
Halliburton, Baker Hughes and Schlumberger are the three biggest suppliers of oil and gas development tools and technology, including the chemicals used to frack wells.
That’s why it made headlines last spring when Baker Hughes announced it would adopt a new policy of disclosing “100 percent” of its fracking fluid recipes and phasing out the use of “trade secret” claims. Drillers that are Baker Hughes’ clients have begun posting the information to the website FracFocus.org as of Oct. 1.
However, it’s unclear whether Halliburton will follow suit when the merger is final.
Baker Hughes Vice President Iain McIntosh told StateImpact Pennsylvania last June the company’s decision was a reflection of the industry’s maturation.
“I think there’s a lot of misinformation out there today,” he said. “It just seemed to be a responsible step to take to ensure that we try to demystify or perhaps debunk some of the myths in terms of what we’re pumping down hole.
“Certainly there’s a concern that the more you disclose, people can reverse-engineer, but I think you’ve just seen a natural evolution and maturity around that.”
Last spring, Halliburton told the Associated Press it planned to study Baker Hughes’ new approach to disclosure, but was still committed to “protecting our intellectual property.”
It seems that may still be the case.
“As we just announced the merger, integration plans have not yet been developed,” said Halliburton spokeswoman Susie McMichael in an email. “The integration process will occur after the transaction is closed in 2015 and during the following few years.”
Melanie Kania, a spokeswoman for Baker Hughes, said it will be business as usual until the sale is final.
“We will continue to do exactly what we said we were going to do in relation to the disclosure,” she said.
Although the company has stopped using trade secret claims in its FracFocus forms, critics say the industry still has a long way to go to achieve full, public disclosure. As StateImpact Pennsylvania has reported, open data advocates and federal regulators have criticized FracFocus for limiting public access to information about more than 85,000 wells.