The oil & gas industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by carbon emission reductions efforts, the energy transition, and need for improved energy security, and growing importance of technologies such as carbon capture, low-carbon hydrogen production, and energy storage. 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: green hydrogen synthesis. 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

Green hydrogen synthesis is a key innovation area in oil & gas

Green hydrogen synthesis refers to the process of producing hydrogen using renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, in combination with electrolysis. The method is considered environmentally friendly and sustainable as it does not produce greenhouse gas emissions.

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 290+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established oil & gas companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of green hydrogen synthesis.

Key players in green hydrogen synthesis – 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 green hydrogen synthesis

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission 291 Unlock Company Profile
Toshiba 261 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 228 Unlock Company Profile
De Nora Permelec 174 Unlock Company Profile
CEA 152 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 139 Unlock Company Profile
Asahi Kasei 106 Unlock Company Profile
Industrie De Nora 96 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 82 Unlock Company Profile
Fujifilm 78 Unlock Company Profile
NACCO Materials Handling Group 75 Unlock Company Profile
Kawasaki Heavy Industries 70 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Electric Industries 66 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 63 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 63 Unlock Company Profile
Hymeth Aps 61 Unlock Company Profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 60 Unlock Company Profile
Kyocera 49 Unlock Company Profile
Nihon Trim 47 Unlock Company Profile
3M 46 Unlock Company Profile
Next Hydrogen 46 Unlock Company Profile
ThyssenKrupp 41 Unlock Company Profile
NGK Spark Plug 40 Unlock Company Profile
Rolls-Royce 39 Unlock Company Profile
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique 36 Unlock Company Profile
Osaka Gas 36 Unlock Company Profile
Sharp 36 Unlock Company Profile
Tokuyama 34 Unlock Company Profile
BASF 31 Unlock Company Profile
Metso Outotec 30 Unlock Company Profile
Metso 30 Unlock Company Profile
HTceramix 29 Unlock Company Profile
Giner 28 Unlock Company Profile
G T A 28 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson Matthey 28 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 27 Unlock Company Profile
MiZ 26 Unlock Company Profile
Airbus 25 Unlock Company Profile
TotalEnergies 25 Unlock Company Profile
AquaHydrex 25 Unlock Company Profile
SoftBank Group 24 Unlock Company Profile
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Angewandten Forschung 24 Unlock Company Profile
Japan Technological Research Association of Artificial Photosynthetic Chemical Process 24 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi Zosen 23 Unlock Company Profile
Skyre 23 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 23 Unlock Company Profile
Engie 21 Unlock Company Profile
RAG-Stiftung 20 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 20 Unlock Company Profile
Toto 20 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

CEA is one of the leading patent filers in green hydrogen synthesis for the oil & gas industry. The French government research organization is a leader in low carbon energies technology development. In accordance with the French Green Hydrogen Plan 2020-2030, CEA has undertaken several research projects focusing on green hydrogen. Some other key patent filers in the space include Toshiba, Siemens, and De Nora Permelec.

In terms of application diversity, TotalEnergies leads the pack, while SoftBank and Toto stood in the second and third positions, respectively. TotalEnergies is actively involved in the development of hydrogen economy in Europe. It currently operates two green hydrogen plants, whereas as an operator it has nine upcoming green hydrogen plants spread across Europe, Americas, Africa, and Oceania.

By means of geographic reach, SoftBank held the top position, followed by NACCO Materials Handling and Metso Outotec. Japanese multinational investment firm, SoftBank, has extended financial support to upcoming green hydrogen projects across the world, including Saudi Arabia, Kenya, California, Mongolia, India, and Norway.

As the world takes early steps towards decarbonization and overall energy transition, the pioneers of green hydrogen synthesis could well become the drivers of the energy markets in the future.

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.