The oil & gas industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by advances in cryogenic technology and equipment, and the need to lower costs and reduce environmental emissions, and the growing importance of technologies such as machine learning, digitalization, and artificial intelligence. 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: cryogenic gas separation. 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

Cryogenic gas separation is a key innovation area in oil & gas

Cryogenic gas separation is a process used to remove certain gases, such as carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane, from a feed gas stream by cooling it to very low temperatures and allowing the gases to condense and separate. This method of separation is commonly used in industries such as oil and gas to produce purified gases for further use or sequestration.

Cryogenic gas separation is observed as the preferred technology for generating high-purity gases.

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 cryogenic gas separation.

Key players in cryogenic gas separation – 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 cryogenic gas separation

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Air Liquide 417 Unlock Company Profile
Linde 167 Unlock Company Profile
BP 99 Unlock Company Profile
Casale 95 Unlock Company Profile
Air Products and Chemicals 33 Unlock Company Profile
Lurgi 21 Unlock Company Profile
8 Rivers Capital 19 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 17 Unlock Company Profile
Fluor 16 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 16 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 15 Unlock Company Profile
GreatPoint Energy 14 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson Matthey 14 Unlock Company Profile
Black & Veatch 13 Unlock Company Profile
Costain Group 12 Unlock Company Profile
AG Edwards 10 Unlock Company Profile
Exxon Mobil 10 Unlock Company Profile
KBR 8 Unlock Company Profile
1304338 Alberta 8 Unlock Company Profile
China National Offshore Oil 6 Unlock Company Profile
FuelCell Energy 6 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 6 Unlock Company Profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 4 Unlock Company Profile
Sure Champion Investment 4 Unlock Company Profile
JGC 4 Unlock Company Profile
CNOOC Gas and Power Group 4 Unlock Company Profile
BASF 3 Unlock Company Profile
Illuminate Buyer 2 Unlock Company Profile
Liaoning Datang International Fuxin Coal To Gas 2 Unlock Company Profile
Edwards Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
Lurgi Zimmer 2 Unlock Company Profile
BP North America 2 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 1 Unlock Company Profile
Weaver, Andrew 1 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 1 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Air Liquide is one of the leading patent filers in cryogenic gas separation industry. It has extensive experience in the separation of cryogenic gases. It developed an innovative technology called Crycocap for CO2 capture, while increasing the yield of H2. The company has also engineered solvent-based technologies such as amine to capture CO2 from flue or synthesis gas. Some other key patent filers in cryogenic gas separation include Linde and BP.

In terms of application diversity, Exxon Mobil leads the pack, while Honeywell International and FuelCell Energy stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, 8 Rivers Capital held the top position, followed by Siemens and General Electric.

Cryogenic gas separation is a promising alternative to reduce emissions and reduce carbon footprint. Another key driver for the adoption of this technology is the production of gases with high purity.

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.