The oil & gas industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by cost-effectiveness, operational efficiency, and enhanced safety, and growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and big data. 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 Innovation in Oil & Gas: Cryogenic natural gas liquefaction.

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

Cryogenic natural gas liquefaction is a key innovation area in oil & gas

Cryogenic natural gas liquefaction involves subjecting natural gas at cryogenic temperatures to convert it into liquefied natural gas (LNG). This shrinks natural gas volume by 600 times and helps in safer and easier transportation.

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 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established oil & gas companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of cryogenic natural gas liquefaction.

Key players in cryogenic natural gas liquefaction – a disruptive innovation in the oil & gas industry [Datawrapper link to the corresponding bubble chart is given below] 

‘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’.

Air Products and Chemicals is a leading patent filer in cryogenic natural gas liquefaction. The cryogenic LNG heat exchangers manufactured by the company operate in more than 100 LNG trains across the world. Another key patent filer is Linde, which introduced efficient cryogenic technologies for cost-effective distribution of LNG for developing LNG infrastructure.

Air Liquide Engineering & Construction is yet another important patent filer that offers robust cryogenic liquefaction technologies. For small-scale LNG plants, it has introduced Turbofin, a Nitrogen Refrigerant Technology. For small to mid-scale LNG, it has introduced Smartfin, which is a single mixed refrigerant technology. And for large-scale LNG plants, it offers Liquefin, a dual mixed refrigerant technology.

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.