In a very recent white paper, Ambercite and Griffith Hack reported on the patent landscape of fracking using our unique Network Patent Analysis landscaping method. But almost at exactly the same time, the oil services industry was shaken up by the acquisition of industry major Baker Hughes by Halliburton, one of the two leading companies in the industry.
So how does this change the patent landscape?
In the earlier report, we looked at the patent landscape in two ways, namely on filing activity (who was filing patents and when) and then on patent outcomes, or what the most important patents and areas of activities were. As part of this, we identified three distinctive patent clusters. These are, in descending order of importance:
- Cluster A – ‘Stabilization’, which refers to technologies such as proppants designed to keep the hydraulic fractures stable under the ground
- Cluster B – ‘Liquefaction of hydrocarbons’, which referred to technologies designed to help liquefy hydrocarbons trapped underground
- Cluster C – ‘Viscosity control’, or technologies designed to manage the viscosity of fracking fluids under the ground
We will review the impact of the Halliburton/Baker Hughes merger in the same way.
Effect on overall patent filing activity
In terms of the total number of patents filed, the merge has had a big impact as shown below. Halliburton already led Schlumberger before the merger, but after the merger they are a long way in front with a 63% increase in the number of patent that they own in the area of fracking,
Effect on cluster dominance
Here the effects of the merger are more subtle. In the Stabilization cluster, which Halliburton already led, there is a 11% improvement in an already dominate posiiton (see the orange bars).
In the Viscosity control cluster, Halliburton leap from third positon to top position with a 160% improvement in its patent position. (black bars).
However the merger has no material impact on their relative ranking in the ‘Liquefaction of hydrocarbons’ cluster (green bars).
What were some of the top patents that Halliburton would have acquired in the Baker Hughes purchase?
These would have included included US6059034, filed in 1998 for a Formation treatment method using deformable particles. This is ranked in 19th position in Cluster A “Stabilization”. This claims
1. A method of treating a subterranean formation, comprising:
injecting a fracturing fluid composition into said subterranean formation, wherein said fracturing fluid composition comprises a blend of a fracture proppant material and a deformable beaded material, wherein in said formation individual particles of said deformable beaded material yield upon point to point stress with particles of said fracture proppant material
As well as US6228812, filed in 1999 for Reducing production of water in oil and/or gas wells without substantially affecting production of associated hydrocarbons. This ranked in 44th spot in the “Viscosity control’ cluster, and discloses
Compositions and methods for modifying the permeability of subterranean formations for the purpose of selectively reducing excessive production of aqueous fluids. The compositions include copolymers which may be added to an aqueous fluid to form a water control treatment fluid. The copolymers may include copolymers having a hydrophillic monomeric unit, a first anchoring monomeric unit and a filler monomeric unit, with the first anchoring monomeric unit being based on N-vinylformamide.
The merger between Halliburton and Baker Hughes has helped strengthen Halliburton’s already strong patent dominance in the area of fracking by 63%. This improvement will be particularly noticed in the patent cluster of ‘Viscosity control’ (up by 160% in cluster dominance), although the merger will also strength the dominance of Halliburton in the patent cluster of ‘Stabilization’ (11% improvement).
This overall result is also shown in the patent landscape map shown below – double click on the partial image to see the full map
Want to know more?
Please contact us if you are interested in learning more about the full impact of the Halliburton-Baker Hughes merger on the fracking patent landscape