The oil & gas industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the growing need for cost-effective and safe drilling operations, and the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, and big data. In the last three years alone, there have been over 523,000 patents filed and granted in the oil & gas industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in oil & gas: automated drilling tools. Buy the report here.
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 stabilizing 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.
60+ 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 196,000 patents, there are 60+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Within the emerging innovation stage, high-pressure gas vessels, boil-off gas treatment, and oil recovery CWI are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Green hydrogen synthesis, hydrocarbon lubricants, and oil well surveillance are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are cryogenic gas separation and olefin metathesis catalysts, which are now well established in the industry.
Innovation S-curve for the oil & gas industry
Automated drilling tools is a key innovation area in oil & gas
Automated drilling tools refer to the use of advanced technology to automate the drilling process, ultimately improving drilling efficiency and accuracy, reducing human error, and improving safety.
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 70+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established oil & gas companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of automated drilling tools.
Key players in automated drilling tools – a disruptive innovation in the oil & gas industry
‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.
‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.
Patent volumes related to automated drilling tools
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Halliburton is one of the leading patent filers in automated drilling tools. It uses advanced automation solutions such as LOGIX® Autonomous Drilling Platform, iStar® Intelligent Drilling and Logging Platform, iCruise X™ Intelligent Rotary Steerable System and iCruise® Intelligent Rotary Steerable System for increasing performance and efficiency and reducing operational costs and risks. Some other key patent filers in the space include Schlumberger and Baker Hughes.
In terms of application diversity, Komatsu leads the pack, while Harnischfeger Technologies and Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Weatherford International held the top positions, followed by Rio Tinto and Shell.
The advances in drilling tools automation continue to gain momentum as more and more companies are embracing automation to optimize their drilling performance and maximize production.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the oil & gas industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Oil & Gas.