The oil & gas industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by innovations in ammonia synthesis, and the need to lower costs and reduce emissions, and the 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: ammonia synthesis. Buy the report here.

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Data Insights Innovation in oil & gas: ammonia synthesis

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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

Ammonia synthesis is a key innovation area in oil & gas

Ammonia synthesis refers to the process of producing ammonia through the reaction of nitrogen and hydrogen gases in the presence of a catalyst. The process typically involves the production of syngas through partial oxidation or steam reforming of hydrocarbons, followed by the water gas shift reaction and synthesis of ammonia.

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 80+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established oil & gas companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of ammonia synthesis.

Key players in ammonia synthesis – 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 ammonia synthesis

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Casale 529 Unlock Company Profile
Haldor Topsoe 390 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson Matthey 227 Unlock Company Profile
ThyssenKrupp 201 Unlock Company Profile
Exxon Mobil 131 Unlock Company Profile
Linde 104 Unlock Company Profile
KBR 77 Unlock Company Profile
Grannus 70 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 68 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 59 Unlock Company Profile
Burelle 51 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 41 Unlock Company Profile
Air Liquide 41 Unlock Company Profile
Maire Tecnimont 40 Unlock Company Profile
Starfire Energy 35 Unlock Company Profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 33 Unlock Company Profile
Daicel 27 Unlock Company Profile
Japan Science and Technology Agency 25 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi Zosen 21 Unlock Company Profile
Solvay 19 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 19 Unlock Company Profile
BayoTech 18 Unlock Company Profile
Petroleo Brasileiro 16 Unlock Company Profile
BP 16 Unlock Company Profile
Illuminate Buyer 15 Unlock Company Profile
Shell 15 Unlock Company Profile
Fluor 15 Unlock Company Profile
Gascontec 14 Unlock Company Profile
Toyo Engineering 13 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Electronics 12 Unlock Company Profile
BASF 12 Unlock Company Profile
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Toegepast-Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek 12 Unlock Company Profile
RAG-Stiftung 11 Unlock Company Profile
McDermott International 11 Unlock Company Profile
GTLpetrol 10 Unlock Company Profile
Mcalister Technologies 10 Unlock Company Profile
Resonac 10 Unlock Company Profile
Ritaj Inv 10 Unlock Company Profile
SynGest 9 Unlock Company Profile
Politechnika Warszawska 9 Unlock Company Profile
Uni-President Enterprises 9 Unlock Company Profile
Air Products and Chemicals 8 Unlock Company Profile
JGC 7 Unlock Company Profile
Shell International Research 7 Unlock Company Profile
Chemetics 7 Unlock Company Profile
Hepu Technology Development (Beijing) 7 Unlock Company Profile
Celanese 6 Unlock Company Profile
Sure Champion Investment 6 Unlock Company Profile
i-plas 5 Unlock Company Profile
National Engineering Research Center of Chemical Fertilizer Catalyst 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Casale is one of the leading patent filers in ammonia synthesis. The company offers technologies to produce both green ammonia and blue ammonia. The technology for the production of green ammonia from renewable energy has been optimized for zero emissions, while the production of blue ammonia is optimized for carbon storage. Some other key patent filers in ammonia synthesis are Haldor Topsoe and Johnson Matthey.

In terms of application diversity, BASF leads the pack, while Starfire Energy and Burelle stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Grannus held the top position, followed by Exxon Mobil and Johnson Matthey.

Ammonia is one of the potential alternatives to fossil fuels for a clean and sustainable future. Therefore, innovation in ammonia synthesis is gaining momentum, especially in the production of green ammonia.

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.