The oil & gas industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the need to reduce carbon emissions, the energy transition, and the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics. 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: syngas production. Buy the report here
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
Syngas production is a key innovation area in oil & gas
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
Casale is one of the leading patent filers in syngas production. The company has developed several technologies for the efficient and reliable production of syngas from gaseous sources, including natural gas and coke oven gases. They are based on partial oxidation (POX) and autothermal reforming (ATR). The ATR technology has been successfully applied in Casale's large-scale ammonia and methanol production processes. Furthermore, both ATR and POX can be used to increase the capacity of methanol plants.
Some other key patent filers in the space include Exxon Mobil, and Haldor Topsoe.
In terms of application diversity, Chevron leads the pack, while Equinor and Gyco stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, LanzaTech Global held the top position, followed by Exxon Mobil and Gyco.
The growth of syngas is mainly driven by the growing demand for petrochemicals and the rising need for energy transition.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the oil & gas industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Oil & Gas.