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Antitrust probe includes Halliburton, Baker Hughes

Oil giants Halliburton and Baker Hughes have become the subjects of a U.S. Department of Justice antitrust probe.

Gina Talamona, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, confirmed the investigation but didn't offer up any details.

"The Antitrust Division is investigating the possibility of anticompetitive practices involving pressure pumping performed on oil and gas wells," she stated in an email.

Pressure pumping is part of the process for hydraulic fracturing, widely known as fracking.

Both Halliburton and Baker Hughes hold a large presence in the Bakken and own two fracking boats located in the Gulf of Mexico.

Which companies are being investigated was not confirmed by the Justice Department.

Susie McMichael, a spokesperson for Halliburton, confirmed the company received a civil investigative demand from the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department regarding pressure pumping services in the second quarter of 2013.

Through McMichael, Halliburton said it intends to cooperate with the federal inquiries and requests.

"We have engaged in discussions with the DOJ on this matter and are in the process of providing responses to the DOJ's information requests," Halliburton said in its statement. "We understand there have been other participants in the industry who have received similar correspondence from the DOJ, and we do not believe that we are being singled out for any particular scrutiny."

McMichael did not have any available information regarding whether or not the investigation was focused on onshore or offshore practices.

A filing with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission made on July 24 said the Baker Hughes received a civil investigative demand from the Justice Department on May 30, which asked for documents dating back to May 29, 2011.

"We are working the DOJ to provide the requested document and information," the filing said. "We are not able to predict what action, if any, might be taken in the future by the DOJ or other governmental authorities as a result of the investigation."

Baker Hughes spokeswoman Christine Mathers declined any further comment on the probe.

Shares for the two companies have both fallen over the past two years, Halliburton dropping 23 percent and Baker Hughes 41 percent.

On July 19, Baker Hughes announced its second quarter earnings to be at $240 million with revenue up 5 percent to $5.49 billion from $5.23 billion in the first quarter of this year.

Halliburton announced its second quarter earnings July 22. It reached an income of $677 million and a total revenue of $7.3 billion, up from the first quarter revenue of $7 billion.

Representatives for Schlumberger, the world's largest oilfield services company, declined comment on any involvement in the investigation to Bloomberg Businessweek and could not be reached for further comment.