The oil & gas industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by safety concerns, regulations on carbon emissions, and energy transition, and the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, and digitization. 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: LNG ships. 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

LNG ships is a key innovation area in oil & gas

LNG ships are vessels designed for transporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) from one location to another. These ships are equipped with specialized storage tanks to accommodate the LNG in its liquid state. The LNG is kept at extremely low temperatures to maintain its liquid form, and is typically transported over long distances to meet the growing global demand for natural gas.

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 60 companies, spanning technology vendors, established oil & gas companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of LNG ships.

Key players in LNG ships – 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 LNG ships

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Korea Development Bank 686 Unlock Company Profile
HD Hyundai 334 Unlock Company Profile
Engie 268 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Heavy Industries 181 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 67 Unlock Company Profile
Exxon Mobil 39 Unlock Company Profile
Wartsila 27 Unlock Company Profile
Kawasaki Heavy Industries 26 Unlock Company Profile
Lindeman Asia Investment 26 Unlock Company Profile
Linde 19 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha 15 Unlock Company Profile
Korea Gas 12 Unlock Company Profile
Single Buoy Moorings 9 Unlock Company Profile
Naturgy Energy Group 9 Unlock Company Profile
DongHwa Entec 8 Unlock Company Profile
Mustang Sampling 8 Unlock Company Profile
Equinor 8 Unlock Company Profile
Sinvent 8 Unlock Company Profile
Teekay 8 Unlock Company Profile
Single Buoy Moorings 8 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 7 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 7 Unlock Company Profile
Kobe Steel 7 Unlock Company Profile
Equinor 7 Unlock Company Profile
NFE Patent 6 Unlock Company Profile
Artemes Group 5 Unlock Company Profile
Man Energy Solutions Filial Af Man Energy Solutions Se Tyskland 5 Unlock Company Profile
China State Shipbuilding 5 Unlock Company Profile
Galileo Tech 5 Unlock Company Profile
Fluor 5 Unlock Company Profile
Nesco 5 Unlock Company Profile
Huainan Mining Group 5 Unlock Company Profile
Fortescue Metals Group 4 Unlock Company Profile
Air Liquide 4 Unlock Company Profile
N&K 4 Unlock Company Profile
TotalEnergies 4 Unlock Company Profile
Orkla Engineering 4 Unlock Company Profile
Engie 4 Unlock Company Profile
Chiyoda 3 Unlock Company Profile
Belcan 3 Unlock Company Profile
Linde AG, Engineering 2 Unlock Company Profile
POSCO 2 Unlock Company Profile
China National Offshore Oil 2 Unlock Company Profile
Learning Technologies Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
Eurodim 2 Unlock Company Profile
NES 2 Unlock Company Profile
Nikkiso 2 Unlock Company Profile
Valtronics DWC 2 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 2 Unlock Company Profile
Houpu Clean Energy 1 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

HD Hyundai, Engie, and Samsung Heavy Industries are some of the leading patent filers in LNG ships. Advances in LNG ships technologies have enabled the construction of carriers that use LNG as a fuel. It results in the reduction of carbon emissions and less pollution in oceans when compared to fuel oil, and helps companies to meet carbon-neutral goals.

In terms of application diversity, MAN Energy Solutions Filial Af MAN Energy Solutions Se Tyskland leads the pack, while Lindeman Asia Investment and Fortescue Metals Group stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Lindeman Asia Investment held the top position, followed by Linde and Engie.

The increasing demand for natural gas worldwide, driven by the need for energy transition and carbon reduction efforts is driving the market for LNG ships. Innovations in LNG ships have enabled the transportation of natural gas sustainably.

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.