The oil & gas industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by carbon emission concerns, energy transition, and energy security aspects, 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 Hydrogen in oil & gas: syngas production. Buy the report here.
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 196,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the oil & gas industry, there are 60+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Syngas production is a key innovation area in hydrogen
Syngas, or synthesis gas is a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide, produced by partial oxidation, steam reforming, or gasification of various hydrocarbon feedstocks. The syngas can be further processed into a variety of chemicals, such as methanol, ammonia, and synthetic fuels.
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 100+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established oil & gas companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of syngas production.
Key players in syngas production – 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 syngas production
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Exxon Mobil is one of the leading patent filers in syngas production techniques, which has applications in hydrogen production. It is one of the largest refiners in the world, which is critically dependent on hydrogen for several refining processes. It is also one of the largest proponents of evolving blue hydrogen production in the world. Some other key patent filers in the space include Casale, Haldor Topsoe, and Johnson Matthey.
In terms of application diversity, Chevron leads the pack, while Equinor and Gyco stood in the second and third positions, respectively. The US-based oil major, Chevron is among the leading refiners and petrochemicals producers in the world. In August 2023, it reported achieving waste-to-hydrogen production that incorporates an innovative syngas production technique to convert organic green waste. The production facility that was built in collaboration with other technology vendors is located in Richmond, California.
By means of geographic reach, LanzaTech Global held the top position, followed by Exxon Mobil and Gyco. LanzaTech is a prominent technology vendor that offers technology licensing services to large-scale basic industry leaders. It has helped set up several facilities in North America, Asia, Europe and Africa that depend on syngas production.
Syngas production is a key step in hydrogen production from natural gas. Technological knowhow about syngas production can significantly help attain leadership position in hydrogen production, and therefore become a key proponent of the hydrogen economy.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the oil & gas industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Hydrogen in Oil and Gas.