The oil and gas industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for improved productivity and performance, supported by real-time insights, with the growing importance of technologies such as big AI and machine learning. In the last three years alone, there have been over 534,000 patents filed and granted in the oil & gas industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Internet of Things in Oil & Gas: Digital twins.
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, robotic drilling machines and digital twins are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Wellbore drilling optimisation, automated drilling tools, and pressure sensing flow actuator are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are combined cycle power plants and smart climate control systems, which are now well established in the industry.
Innovation S-curve for Internet of Things in the oil & gas industry
Digital twins is a key innovation area in Internet of Things
A digital twin is a virtual representation of a real-time digital equivalent such as a physical object or process. They help to detect, prevent, predict, and optimise physical environment through AI, real-time analytics, visualisation, and simulation tools.
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 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established oil & gas companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of digital twins.
Key players in digital twins – a disruptive innovation in the oil & 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 digital twins
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Honeywell is one of the leading patent filers that offers the UniSim Design suite, which is a multipurpose simulation tool for process design, simulation, safety studies, operations monitoring and debottlenecking. The tool can be used in various oil and gas segments such as petrochemicals, and refineries for optimisation of solutions and business improvement.
Siemens offers the Xcelerator software package that helps in rapid digital transformation. Through the systems engineering software, performance of a product can be virtually validated using digital twins. To evaluate the performance in real-time, and operational conditions, digital twins gather information from sensors mounted on physical objects. This ensures accurate modelling across the whole lifetime of a product or its manufacturing.
To further understand how Internet of Things is disrupting the oil & gas industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Internet of Things in Oil & Gas (2021).