By ALISON SIDER
The US Department of Justice has started an antitrust
investigation of the pressure-pumping business, a key component
of the oil-and-gas industry practice of hydraulic fracturing,
Baker Hughes said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange
Baker Hughes said it received a Civil Investigative Demand from
the Justice Department under the Antitrust Civil Process Act.
The request sought information relating to the US
pressure-pumping market beginning May 29, 2011.
Pressure pumping, the process of injecting water and other
materials into a well to break apart rock formations and unlock
oil and gas, is the main step in the hydraulic-fracturing
process. That technique helped spur a boom in U.S oil and
Three companies still dominate the pressure-pumping market
in North America: Halliburton, the top provider of such
services in the US, Schlumberger and Baker Hughes. Although
their market share has declined in recent years, the three
companies accounted for some 63% of the North American
pressure-pumping market in 2012, according to Barclays.
Baker Hughes didn't provide additional details about the
scope of the investigation or the information requested.
"We are not able to predict what action, if any, might be
taken in the future by the DOJ or other governmental
authorities as a result of the investigation," Baker Hughes
said in the filing.
Spokesmen for Halliburton and Schlumberger couldn't be
reached immediately for comment.
Dow Jones Newswires