The oil & gas industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by innovations in new adsorbent materials, stringent environmental regulations, the need to reduce costs, and growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence, and machine learning. 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: adsorption-based gas treatment. 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

Adsorption-based gas treatment is a key innovation area in oil & gas

Adsorption-based gas treatment involves using a gas separation membrane or adsorbent material to selectively remove certain gases from a gas mixture. The gas separation layer or adsorbent material selectively adsorbs the target gas based on its physical and chemical properties.

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 150+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established oil & gas companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of adsorption-based gas treatment.

Key players in adsorption-based gas treatment – 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 adsorption-based gas treatment

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Exxon Mobil 726 Unlock Company Profile
Air Liquide 445 Unlock Company Profile
Linde 251 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 194 Unlock Company Profile
Dow 166 Unlock Company Profile
Shell 163 Unlock Company Profile
Air Products and Chemicals 112 Unlock Company Profile
RAG-Stiftung 108 Unlock Company Profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 98 Unlock Company Profile
Fujifilm 98 Unlock Company Profile
Halliburton 61 Unlock Company Profile
JGC 49 Unlock Company Profile
Chevron U. S. A. 46 Unlock Company Profile
Casale 45 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 41 Unlock Company Profile
Sekisui Chemical 36 Unlock Company Profile
BASF 36 Unlock Company Profile
TotalEnergies 35 Unlock Company Profile
Energy Recovery 32 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Chemical 30 Unlock Company Profile
Kuraray 30 Unlock Company Profile
IFP Energies nouvelles 29 Unlock Company Profile
Osaka Gas 28 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 28 Unlock Company Profile
Waga Energy 26 Unlock Company Profile
Haldor Topsoe 26 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Chemical 26 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Chemical Group 25 Unlock Company Profile
InvenTyS Thermal Technologies 24 Unlock Company Profile
ThermoChem Recovery International 23 Unlock Company Profile
Huntsman 23 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson Matthey 22 Unlock Company Profile
Evonik Industries 22 Unlock Company Profile
Schlumberger 22 Unlock Company Profile
LG 22 Unlock Company Profile
Hexcel 18 Unlock Company Profile
Toray Industries 18 Unlock Company Profile
JFE 17 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Seika Chemicals 17 Unlock Company Profile
Petroliam Nasional 17 Unlock Company Profile
Renaissance Energy Investment 16 Unlock Company Profile
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation 16 Unlock Company Profile
Apache Nitrogen Products 16 Unlock Company Profile
ThyssenKrupp 15 Unlock Company Profile
Saipem 14 Unlock Company Profile
Arkema 14 Unlock Company Profile
Axiom Angewandte Prozesstechnik GesMBH 14 Unlock Company Profile
JOHNSON, ROBERT A 13 Unlock Company Profile
Eco Technol 13 Unlock Company Profile
Chart Industries 12 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Exxon Mobil is one of the leading patent filers in adsorption-based gas treatment. The company has robust and cost-effective technologies to remove impurities such as sulfur from natural gas. One such technology, OASE® sulfexx™, jointly developed with BASF, uses a solvent for selective H2S removal, while decreasing co-adsorption of CO2. The company also has other technologies, FLEXSORB™ SE and FLEXSORB™ SE Plus, for selective H2S removal in the presence of carbon dioxide using proprietary amines. Other key patent filers in adsorption-based gas treatment are Air Liquide and Linde.

In terms of application diversity Eco Technol leads the pack, while Chart Industries and Waga Energy are in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographical reach, ThermoChem Recovery International held the top position, followed by and Huntsman and Schlumberger.

Companies are continuously innovating adsorption-based gas treatment to reduce emissions, lower operating costs, and increase efficiencies. Advances in this technology will further help companies to meet their sulfur removal targets and emissions regulations.

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 worl’s largest industries.