The oil and gas industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for improved productivity, emissions reductions and long-term sustainability. Therefore, the industry is pursuing clean energy transition, alongside which there has been a growing interest in technologies such as green hydrogen, fuel cells, and carbon capture and storage (CCS). In the last three years alone, there have been over 534,000 patents filed and granted in the oil and gas industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Oil & Gas: Carbonated water injection (CWI) for oil recovery.

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, drilling simulation and modelling, carbonated water injection (CWI ) for oil recovery, and automated compressed gas filling are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Liquified gas shipping vessels, and oil well fracking are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are compressed bio-fuel shipping vessels and cryogenic natural gas liquefaction, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for the oil & gas industry

Carbonated water injection (CWI ) for oil recovery is a key innovation area in oil & gas

Carbonated water injection (CWI ) is an innovative technique used in the secondary and tertiary phases of oil recovery. In this technique, CO2 dissolved in water is injected into the oil reservoir from an injection well, to sufficiently mobilise oil flow at the production well. As oilfields deplete over time, the CWI technique can help oil and gas companies to increase the oil recovery from such wells, thereby extending their production life. Thus, companies can generate higher return from their hydrocarbon assets. It could also help companies conserve their capital that would have otherwise been spent on bringing additional fields online.

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 carbonated water injection (CWI ) for oil recovery.

Key players in carbonated water injection (CWI ) for oil recovery – 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’.

Leaders in patent filings for carbonated water injection (CWI ) include Equinor , Halliburton , and ExxonMobil. Maximising oil production is the primary business of oil and gas operators and oilfield service companies. Naturally, these companies are at the forefront of technology development for EOR.

Equinor has pursued the development of CWI and filed 58 patents in this regard. R&D efforts in the CWI technology are likely to help the company extend production from its mature oilfields in the Norwegian Continental Shelf.

Halliburton , a leading oilfield services company, has vast expertise in delivering EOR services in the US as well as in other markets around the world. It has helped numerous clients implement EOR strategies for extending the production life of their oilfields.

ExxonMobil has filed 27 patents on the CWI technology making it a leader in this space. The company applies internally developed technologies to improve its production and competitiveness in the industry.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the oil & gas industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Top 20 Oil & Gas Themes 2022.

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.