The Latest: Changes afoot for oil and gas “trade secrets”

  • In April, oil industry supplier Baker Hughes split from the rest of the industry and announced plans to reveal 100 percent of its chemicals as a way to increase public trust and drive commercial innovation.

    Joshua Doubek (CC via Wikimedia)
 

Backstory
Energy companies have long enjoyed secrecy when it comes to the chemical makeup of the fluids they inject underground to release oil and gas. In the late 2000s, Western states like Wyoming and Colorado passed rules requiring some public disclosure, but broad exemptions for "trade secrets" remained common ("Frack forward," HCN, 10/1/10). As hydraulic fracturing spread and public backlash mounted, a few companies accepted the rules. But drilling giant Halliburton, national trade groups and others continued to resist full disclosure.

Followup
In March, Wyoming's Supreme Court ruled against Halliburton, saying that "trade secrets" should be defined very narrowly. And in April, industry supplier Baker Hughes split from the rest of the industry and announced plans to reveal 100 percent of its chemicals as a way to increase public trust and drive commercial innovation. Supporters liken the new policy to Coca-Cola listing its ingredients without divulging its secret formula.

David Katz
David Katz
May 10, 2014 04:33 PM
It’s not clear how much information Baker Hughes is actually going to disclose. A sentence buried in the company’s announcement makes it clear the industry isn’t going to be reformed overnight. Baker Hughes said it will provide complete lists of the products and chemical ingredients used in frack fluids “where accepted by our customers and relevant governmental authorities.”

In other words, where their customers don't want to disclose, Baker Hughes won't disclose.
Howard Paley
Howard Paley
May 14, 2014 07:11 AM
In my book, what these corporations are doing is criminal. At what point will the thirst for energy independence and corporate profit be valued less than protecting the earth's integrity? From what I've read, fracking has already contaminated aquifers and destabilized overlying strata ... polluting drinking water and causing earthquakes to occur in places where they have never happened before. This dangerous practice and secrecy over the chemical compounds being used is a deliberate act of deception orchestrated at the highest level of government ... to prevent oversight and regulation by the EPA. It is my deepest hope that Wyoming and Colorado prevail in their efforts to expose these corporate giants ... and those who have knowingly and willfully perpetrated this fraud held accountable.
Tim Crowell
Tim Crowell
May 14, 2014 09:30 AM
As the neoCONs have said repeatedly- "if you aren't doing anything wrong, what are you trying to hide?" It worked for the Patriot Act; a real patriot would not be hiding the witch's brew of ingredients he/she is using.
Bruce Vojtecky
Bruce Vojtecky Subscriber
May 20, 2014 08:16 AM
As one who lives in Wyoming I would like to clarify the real problems with the oil an gas industry.
1-The practice of flaring not only pollutes the air but burns up millions of dollars in tax money.
2-There is more damage done to the environment from spillage than fracking and this includes spillage at refineries or pipelines.
3-There is a lot of damage done to the surface from the survey rigs searching for the next glory hole. The only time the rigs pay for the damage they cause is when they get caught.
Wyoming is dependent on the tax receipts and employment from the energy companies and I don't want to see that end. Just need them to follow a few basic rules.