Fracking Secrets: The Limitations of Trade Secret Protection in Hydraulic Fracturing

John Craven ยท 16 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. 395

Abstract

Hydraulic fracturing is a drilling technique used to increase resource production in which specially blended liquid mixtures are pumped into oil and gas wells under high pressure causing underground rock formations to crack and open up. Oil and gas companies have traditionally protected the composition of these proprietary liquids through state-level trade secret laws. Opponents of hydraulic fracturing have argued for federal regulation of the process and claimed that trade secret protection is simply a way for oil and gas companies to withhold the identity of the chemicals used. Oil and gas companies are at risk of losing the economic protection of their proprietary mixtures due to the lack of uniformity of state-level trade secret laws and increased disclosure requirements in certain areas. This Note recommends that full-blown federal regulation is not necessary to protect these interests and would be overly burdensome on the industry, and that oil and gas companies should use patents to protect their investments in hydraulic fracturing liquids.