The oil & gas industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by digitalisation, the drive to reduce costs and maximise production, and growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, and machine learning. In the last three years alone, there have been over 534,000 patents filed and granted in the oil & gas industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Artificial Intelligence in Oil & Gas: AI assisted CAD.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity. 

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have. 

40+ innovations will shape the oil & gas industry 

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the oil & gas industry using innovation intensity models built on over 256,000 patents, there are 40+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry. 

Within the emerging innovation stage, sensor guided flow mixing, AI-assisted cheminformatics and intelligent embedded systems are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Automated drilling tools, AI for workflow management, and AI assisted CAD are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are mixing ratio control techniques and wellbore drilling optimization, which are now well established in the industry.  

Innovation S-curve for artificial intelligence in the oil & gas industry

AI-assisted CAD is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

AI has a role in CAM as well as CAD. For instance, SolidWorks CAM automatically generates a part’s manufacturing toolpath after design. CAM software uses the CAD models to generate the toolpaths that drive computer numerically controlled manufacturing machines.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 30+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established oil & gas companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of AI-assisted CAD.

Key players in AI-assisted CAD – a disruptive innovation in the oil & gas industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Leading patent filers in AI-assisted CAD include Siemens , which introduced one of the first AI-driven CAD sketching technologies known as NX™ Sketch. It helps companies to improve productivity and flexibility through sketching in a 3D environment. The tool is part of the Siemens ' Xcelerator portfolio, which provides increased levels of automation, opportunities, and insights to companies through digital twins.

With the drive to continue to improve productivity, reliability and safety, more and more companies are expected to use AI-assisted CAD over the coming years. Innovations in the technology help companies to optimise the design process and remove discrepancies.

To further understand how artificial intelligence is disrupting the oil & gas industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on AI in Oil & Gas.

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.