The oil & gas industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the need to reduce emissions and lower costs, and the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, and machine learning. 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: CO2 electroreduction. Buy the report here.

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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

CO2 electroreduction is a key innovation area in oil & gas

CO2 electroreduction uses electrochemical methods to convert carbon dioxide into valuable chemicals and fuels such as synthetic diamond, methanol, propanol, and propionate, which can replace fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide reduction may occur through several electrochemical pathways, which depends on the electrode material, electrolyte, and conditions.

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 80+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established oil & gas companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of CO2 electroreduction.

Key players in CO2 electroreduction – 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 CO2 electroreduction

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Toshiba 439 Unlock Company Profile
LiquidLight 107 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 100 Unlock Company Profile
De Nora Permelec 75 Unlock Company Profile
Avantium 66 Unlock Company Profile
Mcalister Technologies 52 Unlock Company Profile
The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission 52 Unlock Company Profile
Electricite de France 50 Unlock Company Profile
Calera 43 Unlock Company Profile
Medtronic 37 Unlock Company Profile
Aquahydrex 36 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 33 Unlock Company Profile
ENEOS 33 Unlock Company Profile
CEA 28 Unlock Company Profile
NEC 27 Unlock Company Profile
Osaka Gas 25 Unlock Company Profile
Ares Management 25 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 21 Unlock Company Profile
Ceramatec 19 Unlock Company Profile
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency 18 Unlock Company Profile
IFP Energies nouvelles 16 Unlock Company Profile
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique 15 Unlock Company Profile
Ecotricity Group 15 Unlock Company Profile
AquaHydrex 15 Unlock Company Profile
BHP 14 Unlock Company Profile
NewCO2Fuels 14 Unlock Company Profile
Furukawa 13 Unlock Company Profile
Halliburton 13 Unlock Company Profile
Centre National Research Scientific 12 Unlock Company Profile
Silicon Fire 12 Unlock Company Profile
Repsol 12 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Telegraph and Telephone 12 Unlock Company Profile
Techwin 9 Unlock Company Profile
Linde 9 Unlock Company Profile
Dioxide Materials 9 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 9 Unlock Company Profile
Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne 9 Unlock Company Profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 9 Unlock Company Profile
Haldor Topsoe 9 Unlock Company Profile
Skyre 9 Unlock Company Profile
HyperSolar 8 Unlock Company Profile
ThalesNano Nanotechnology 7 Unlock Company Profile
BEGO Technologies 7 Unlock Company Profile
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Toegepast-Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek 7 Unlock Company Profile
Covestro 6 Unlock Company Profile
Max Planck Society 5 Unlock Company Profile
TotalEnergies 5 Unlock Company Profile
eChemicles Zrt 5 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 5 Unlock Company Profile
Commissariat a l'Energie et aux Energies Alternatives 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Toshiba is one of the leading patent filers in CO2 electroreduction industry. The company has developed a recycling electrocatalyst electrode stack technology that can convert up to one ton of CO2 to carbon monoxide (CO) in one year at room temperature. The produced carbon monoxide can be used for the production of chemicals and fuel. Some other key patent filers in the CO2 electroreduction industry are LiquidLight and De Nora Permelec.

In terms of application diversity, McAlister Technologies leads the pack, while HyperSolar and Haldor Topsoe stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Aquahydrex held the top position, followed by NEC and LiquidLight.

CO2 electroreduction is a potential approach to achieve decarbonatization through CO2 conversion into valuable chemicals and fuels. Many companies are coming forward to adopt this technology to meet the increasing demand for carbon-neutral chemicals and fuels.

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

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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.