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Baker Hughes to disclose all fracking chemicals

Hoping to increase public trust of the practice, international oilfield services company Baker Hughes has started the process of disclosing 100 percent of chemicals it uses in hydraulic fracturing.

Trade secrets can get in the way of full disclosure on websites like FracFocus, so the Houston-based company said in a statement it will “eliminate any trade secret claims, increasing transparency.”

Competitor Halliburton is watching closely.

“We are attempting to understand how it will be implemented and what it will mean in practice,” Halliburton spokeswoman Susie McMichael wrote in an email.

Dakota Resource Council Executive Director Don Morrison said he hopes other companies follow suit.

“That shows leadership,” he said. “That’s the kind of leadership that the oil industry really needs more of.”

In a statement, Baker Hughes said the move both increases public trust and encourages “commercial innovation.”

The commitment has a catch, though — Baker Hughes must get the OK from customers and governmental authorities for the well-specific disclosures.

The information will also be in a new format, with all the chemicals in a single list instead being listed by product, “thus protecting formulations,” the statement said.

On the governmental authorities caveat, Baker Hughes spokeswoman Melanie Kania said in an email that while the company isn’t aware of any regulator concern over the policy, Baker Hughes is “firmly committed to ensuring that this change comports with all applicable disclosure regulations.”

Negotiating with suppliers and getting data in order will take a couple months before the policy is in full effect.

McMichael said while Halliburton shares its competitor’s commitment to transparency, “we also have an interest in protecting our intellectual property and the substantial investment it represents.”

“That interest in protecting trade secrets is not unique to Halliburton, but is widely shared among companies in a broad range of industries that invest in innovation,” she wrote. “We will be examining the new Baker Hughes disclosure format once we see it and will be assessing its ability to protect proprietary formulas in the coming days and weeks.”