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The oil and gas industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for increased oilfield recovery, profitability and productivity, and growing importance of technologies such as big data, AI, and machine learning. In the last three years alone, there have been over 34,000 patents filed and granted in the oil and gas industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Artificial Intelligence in Oil & Gas: Wellbore drilling optimization. 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 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.

150+ 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, sensor guided flow mixing, AI-assisted cheminformatics, and intelligent embedded systems are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Automated drilling tools, AI for workflow management, and AI-assisted CAD are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are mixing ratio control techniques and wellbore drilling optimisation, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for artificial intelligence in the oil & gas industry 

Wellbore drilling optimisation is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

Wellbore drilling optimisation generally involves reducing drilling cost, improving drill bit's rotation speed for improving drill rate, and optimising bit weight.

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 wellbore drilling optimisation.

Key players in wellbore drilling optimisation – a disruptive innovation in the oil and 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’.

Patent volumes related to wellbore drilling optimisation

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Halliburton 1127 Unlock Company Profile
Baker Hughes 449 Unlock Company Profile
Schlumberger 390 Unlock Company Profile
Weatherford International 206 Unlock Company Profile
China National Petroleum 177 Unlock Company Profile
China Petrochemical 89 Unlock Company Profile
Welltec 87 Unlock Company Profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 82 Unlock Company Profile
Evolution Engineering 65 Unlock Company Profile
Equinor 54 Unlock Company Profile
China National Offshore Oil 51 Unlock Company Profile
Geomec Engineering 49 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 43 Unlock Company Profile
Beijer Alma 41 Unlock Company Profile
Shell 37 Unlock Company Profile
Sensor Developments 37 Unlock Company Profile
Prad Research And Development 33 Unlock Company Profile
Akastor 31 Unlock Company Profile
Chevron U. S. A 31 Unlock Company Profile
Upwing Energy 31 Unlock Company Profile
NOV 27 Unlock Company Profile
ConocoPhillips 23 Unlock Company Profile
TotalEnergies 23 Unlock Company Profile
Emerson Electric 23 Unlock Company Profile
Precision Energy Services 22 Unlock Company Profile
Marathon Oil 20 Unlock Company Profile
Exxon Mobil 19 Unlock Company Profile
Tendeka 14 Unlock Company Profile
Boston Consulting Group 13 Unlock Company Profile
WellSense Technologies 12 Unlock Company Profile
Wellstarter 12 Unlock Company Profile
CGG 12 Unlock Company Profile
Essential Utilities 11 Unlock Company Profile
Haimo Technology 11 Unlock Company Profile
Vetco Gray Scandinavia 11 Unlock Company Profile
CNPC Chuanqing Drilling Engineering 11 Unlock Company Profile
Sandvik 10 Unlock Company Profile
Luna Innovations 10 Unlock Company Profile
ResFrac 9 Unlock Company Profile
Extensive Energy Technologies Partnership 9 Unlock Company Profile
HyperSciences 8 Unlock Company Profile
QinetiQ Group 8 Unlock Company Profile
Sondex Wireline 8 Unlock Company Profile
Moog 8 Unlock Company Profile
ITP 8 Unlock Company Profile
Saipem 7 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens Energy 7 Unlock Company Profile
Must Holdings 7 Unlock Company Profile
Tendeka 7 Unlock Company Profile
Guangzhou Marine Geological Survey 7 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Schlumberger, a leading patent filer in wellbore drilling optimisation, has collaborated with NOV to offer digital automation solutions. This collaboration brings Schlumberger’s AI “DrillOps” technology with Novo’s process automated platform “NOVOS” to control drilling equipment in rigs. The combination of technologies will provide AI-assisted solutions to optimise drilling efficiencies.

Halliburton, another leading patent filer, recently introduced iStar Intelligent Drilling and Logging Platform, which provides a wide range of solutions to evaluate reservoirs for safe and precise drilling. This platform supports advanced technologies such as AI and machine learning in order to enhance drilling performance and reduce operational costs.

Wellbore drilling optimisation through AI will potentially become the favoured approach by many oil & gas companies. Use of AI helps to generate data-driven insights in real-time to optimise wellbore drilling. Companies are looking to automate as many processes as possible to mitigate operational risks as well as labour risks, potentially leading to cost savings in the long term.

To further understand how artificial intelligence is disrupting the oil & gas industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on AI in 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.