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Protect technology development secrets warn legal experts

Refinements in fracturing technologies are expanding the technique's potential, but as energy companies work on further developments, Jonathan Ball, Barclay Nicholson, Jayme Partridge and Mark Sajewycz argue they need to be mindful of protecting their intellectual property assets in order to remain competitive

Without doubt, hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract gas from shale formations has assumed immense significance in the global energy industry, for good reason: the technique has unlocked vast gas reserves. In a 2011 report, for example, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimated the global technically recoverable resources of shale gas to be 6,622 trillion cubic feet (cf).  Hydraulic fracturing is used to extract the gas from tight formations. Put simply, water, sand and various additives - the frac fluid - are pumped at high pressure down the well bore into the shale formation, fracturing the fissures and releasing the gas, which can then flow up the well bore.  Althoug

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