The oil and gas industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for greater energy efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and long-term sustainability, and growing importance of technologies such as biofuel catalytic cracking. 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 Environment Sustainability in Oil & Gas: Maritime vessel propulsion bio-fuels.

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, carbon capture MOFs and biogas carbon capturing are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Methane capturing, natural gas CO2 capturing, and flue gas treatment are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are bio-fuels and aviation bio-fuels, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for environmental sustainability in the oil & gas industry

Maritime vessel propulsion bio-fuels is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Biofuels for maritime vessels are used in the form of biodiesel, biomethane, and algal biofuels.

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 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established oil & gas companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of maritime vessel propulsion bio-fuels.

Key players in maritime vessel propulsion bio-fuels – a disruptive innovation in the oil & gas industry

‘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’.

Hyundai Heavy Industries is one of the leading patent filers in the maritime vessel propulsion using biofuels. The company's HiMSEN Engine uses biofuels and an onshore demonstrated was held in 2021 with an aim of reducing carbon emissions.

Wärtsilä is conducting research into a wide range of fuels, including biofuels with an ultimate aim of reducing GHG emissions. The company formed a partnership with Boskalis and GoodFuels Marine for rapid development of marine biofuels. The purpose of the two-year programme is to test biofuels produced from industrial sector.

To reduce the environmental impact, Mitsubishi is planning to use renewable hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) for their marine engines. The HVO is produced from biomass and vegetable oils.

Biofuels for maritime vessel propulsion have potential to revolutionise marine sector as they are renewable, environment-friendly and have relatively less impact on marine ecosystems worldwide. However, this transition can only be driven by considerable improvement in technologies for producing biofuels suitable for maritime use.

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.