Saudi Arabian Oil Co and Royal Dutch Shell Plc are leading the way for artificial intelligence investment among top oil & gas companies according to our analysis of a range of GlobalData data.

Artificial intelligence has become one of the key themes in the oil & gas sector of late, with companies hiring for increasingly more roles, making more deals, registering more patents and mentioning it more often in company filings.

These themes, of which artificial intelligence is one, are best thought of as “any issue that keeps a CEO awake at night”, and by tracking and combining them, it becomes possible to ascertain which companies are leading the way on specific issues and which are dragging their heels.

According to GlobalData analysis, Saudi Arabian Oil Co is one of the artificial intelligence leaders in a list of high-revenue companies in the oil & gas industry, having advertised for 29 positions in artificial intelligence, made zero deals related to the field, filed 34 patents and mentioned artificial intelligence one times in company filings between January 2020 and June 2021.

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Our analysis classified one companies as Most Valuable Players – or MVPs – due to their high number of new jobs, deals, patents and company filings mentions in the field of artificial intelligence. An additional four companies are classified as Market Leaders and zero are Average Players. 10 more companies are classified as Late Movers due to their relatively lower levels of jobs, deals, patents and company filings in artificial intelligence.

For the purpose of this analysis, we’ve ranked top companies in the oil & gas sector on each of the four metrics relating to artificial intelligence: jobs, deals, patents and company filings. The best-performing companies – the ones ranked at the top across all or most metrics – were categorised as MVPs while the worst performers – companies ranked at the bottom of most indicators – were classified as Late Movers.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc is spearheading the artificial intelligence hiring race, advertising for 316 new jobs between January 2020 and June 2021. The company reached peak hiring in January 2020, when it listed 63 new job ads related to artificial intelligence.

Total SE followed Royal Dutch Shell Plc as the second most proactive artificial intelligence employer, advertising for 101 new positions. Exxon Mobil Corp was third with 63 new job listings.

One of the most innovative oil & gas companies in recent months was Saudi Arabian Oil Co, having filed 34 patent applications related to artificial intelligence since the beginning of last year. It was followed by China Petroleum & Chemical Corp with one patent.

GlobalData collects patent filings from 100+ counties and jurisdictions. These patents are then tagged according to the themes they relate to, including artificial intelligence, based on specific keywords and expert input. The patents are also assigned to a company to identify the most innovative players in a particular field.

Finally, artificial intelligence was a commonly mentioned theme in oil & gas company filings. Royal Dutch Shell Plc mentioned artificial intelligence three times in its corporate reports between January 2020 and June 2021. Petroleo Brasileiro SA filings mentioned it three times.