Energy Firms’ Fight Over “Trade” Secrets Leads to Texas Court Ruling

A legal fight between two energy companies over trade secrets has led to a Texas Supreme Court denial of a request from Terra Energy Partners LLC to force the defendant to reveal which trade secrets were allegedly stolen.

The case stems from a 2016 lawsuit by Sanchez Oil and Gas Corporation which accused Terra Energy of misappropriating trade secrets. The suit also named three former Sanchez employees hired away by Terra. They and the company were accused of using Sanchez’s trade secret process to “drill oil and gas wells and to secure cost savings from vendor.”

Sanchez alleged there were 15 trade secret processes ranging from technical like drilling, hydraulic fracturing and other matters. But Sanchez would not specifically identify the trade secrets.

In such cases, companies face different restrictions from state to state. Some states require more specifics of the trade secrets alleged to have been stolen.  The requirements vary so as to protect companies into being forced to reveal trade secrets.

In the Sanchez case, Terra maintained that Sanchez carried out a “data dump” of 7,500 documents amounting to 170,000 pages of business records. Terra argued before the supreme court that Sanchez should be forced to disclose the trade secrets allegedly misappropriated rather than being forced to wade through thousands of pages of documents.

Terra Energy Partners LLC is the independent oil and natural  gas company headquartered in Houston that completed a $910 million cash deal to buy WPX Energy Rocky Mountain LLC from Tulsa’s WPX Energy.