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

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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

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

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Exxon Mobil 295 Unlock Company Profile
Casale 280 Unlock Company Profile
Haldor Topsoe 233 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson Matthey 135 Unlock Company Profile
ThyssenKrupp 117 Unlock Company Profile
Linde 105 Unlock Company Profile
Air Liquide 87 Unlock Company Profile
LanzaTech Global 72 Unlock Company Profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 66 Unlock Company Profile
Shell 66 Unlock Company Profile
Air Products and Chemicals 49 Unlock Company Profile
Grannus 40 Unlock Company Profile
KBR 36 Unlock Company Profile
Kobe Steel 34 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 31 Unlock Company Profile
ZEG Power 31 Unlock Company Profile
BP 31 Unlock Company Profile
IFP Energies nouvelles 30 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 27 Unlock Company Profile
Maire Tecnimont 26 Unlock Company Profile
GreatPoint Energy 26 Unlock Company Profile
Mcalister Technologies 25 Unlock Company Profile
Velocys 23 Unlock Company Profile
TotalEnergies 21 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 20 Unlock Company Profile
Fluor 19 Unlock Company Profile
NiQuan Energy Trinidad 17 Unlock Company Profile
Gyco 15 Unlock Company Profile
GTLpetrol 14 Unlock Company Profile
Calix 13 Unlock Company Profile
InEnTec 11 Unlock Company Profile
Sure Champion Investment 11 Unlock Company Profile
Halliburton 10 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Oil 10 Unlock Company Profile
Chevron U. S. A. 10 Unlock Company Profile
FuelCell Energy 10 Unlock Company Profile
Pioneer Energy 10 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi Zosen 8 Unlock Company Profile
Petroleo Brasileiro 8 Unlock Company Profile
Alstom 8 Unlock Company Profile
Kawasaki Heavy Industries 8 Unlock Company Profile
G4 Insights 8 Unlock Company Profile
Equinor 8 Unlock Company Profile
Global Gateways Lux HoldCo 7 Unlock Company Profile
BASF 7 Unlock Company Profile
Chevron 7 Unlock Company Profile
Toyo Engineering 7 Unlock Company Profile
Moody's 6 Unlock Company Profile
ZTEK 6 Unlock Company Profile
Ritaj Inv 6 Unlock Company Profile

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.

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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.