Baker Hughes Says U.S. Opens Probe Into Fracking Service

Baker Hughes Inc., the third-largest provider of services to drill and complete wells, said the U.S. Justice Department is seeking documents for an antitrust investigation related to the hydraulic-fracturing market.

The company received a Civil Investigative Demand, or CID, from the department on May 30 and is working to provide the requested documents and information on its pressure-pumping services, Houston-based Baker Hughes said in a regulatory filing today. The request involves information from May 29, 2011, through the date of the demand, according to the company.

“We are not able to predict what action, if any, might be taken in the future” by the Justice Department or other government authorities because of the investigation, Baker Hughes said in the filing.

The pressure-pumping technique known as fracking involves blasting water mixed with sand and chemicals underground to free trapped hydrocarbons from shale formations. Prices charged for U.S. fracking services slid 14 percent in 2012 and are expected to fall another 6 percent this year, according to PacWest Consulting Partners LLC, a Houston-based industry adviser.

Christine Mathers, a Baker Hughes spokeswoman, didn’t immediately return voice messages seeking comment after regular business hours.

Schlumberger Ltd. and Halliburton Co. are the largest oilfield-services providers. The companies didn’t immediately respond to phone calls and e-mails seeking comment.

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