The oil and gas industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the drive for greater productivity, operational efficiency, enhanced safety and long-term sustainability, and growing importance of technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence and big data. In the last three years alone, there have been over 534,000 patents filed and granted in the oil and gas industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Environment Sustainability in Oil & Gas: Methane capturing.

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

Methane capturing is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas generated either from natural or artificial processes. Methane produced from these processes can be captured and used as a source of energy.

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 methane capturing.

Key players in methane capturing – 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’.

Methane is the major contributor to global warming, and therefore, efficient methane capture technologies can dramatically help in climate control. Leading patent filers for methane capturing in oil and gas industry such as ExxonMobil, Linde, Air Liquide and Honeywell International have already invested in mitigation efforts. Capturing methane and marketing it to chemical makers and manufacturers helps in sustainable development and reducing carbon footprint.

Methane capturing will continue to gain prominence among oil & gas companies as they continue to seek to reduce emissions from their operations. Innovations in methane capturing will help the companies to cut dangerous methane emissions and mitigate climate change.

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.