The oil & gas industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by low-carbon hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, and biofuels, and growing importance of technologies such as electrolyzers, auto-thermal reforming and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). 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 Environmental sustainability in oil & gas: bio-fuel production. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 196,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the oil & gas industry, there are 60+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Biofuel production is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Biofuel production refers to the process of using organic matter such as wood chips, crops, or municipal solid waste to create biofuels as an alternative to traditional fossil fuels. Biofuels can be produced using a number of methods such as fermentation, distillation, and pyrolysis.

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 190+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established oil & gas companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of biofuel production.

Key players in biofuel production – 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 biofuel production

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Shell 346 Unlock Company Profile
UPM-Kymmene 189 Unlock Company Profile
Neste 163 Unlock Company Profile
IFP Energies nouvelles 120 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 97 Unlock Company Profile
Anellotech 90 Unlock Company Profile
Suzano 74 Unlock Company Profile
KiOR 64 Unlock Company Profile
Sundrop Fuels 58 Unlock Company Profile
Exxon Mobil 48 Unlock Company Profile
Xyleco 48 Unlock Company Profile
Enerkem 48 Unlock Company Profile
Iogen 43 Unlock Company Profile
Biogenic Reagents 42 Unlock Company Profile
RAG-Stiftung 40 Unlock Company Profile
Elevance Renewable Sciences 40 Unlock Company Profile
Moody's 39 Unlock Company Profile
Sundrop Ip 38 Unlock Company Profile
Chevron 37 Unlock Company Profile
Phillips 66 37 Unlock Company Profile
The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission 35 Unlock Company Profile
Corbion 32 Unlock Company Profile
Velocys 31 Unlock Company Profile
Accelergy 31 Unlock Company Profile
Proton Power 30 Unlock Company Profile
Haldor Topsoe 30 Unlock Company Profile
Cool Planet Energy Systems 30 Unlock Company Profile
Linde 30 Unlock Company Profile
Gevo 29 Unlock Company Profile
TotalEnergies 29 Unlock Company Profile
Carbonscape 26 Unlock Company Profile
ThyssenKrupp 24 Unlock Company Profile
G4 Insights 23 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 22 Unlock Company Profile
AlzChem Trostberg 22 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 20 Unlock Company Profile
Japan Blue Energy 20 Unlock Company Profile
ZEG Power 20 Unlock Company Profile
Bionext 19 Unlock Company Profile
CEA 19 Unlock Company Profile
Sunshine Kaidi New Energy Group 19 Unlock Company Profile
Expander Energy 19 Unlock Company Profile
Clariant 18 Unlock Company Profile
Sunho Biodiesel 18 Unlock Company Profile
Eni 18 Unlock Company Profile
DuPont de Nemours 17 Unlock Company Profile
Advonex International 16 Unlock Company Profile
Innospec 15 Unlock Company Profile
Stora Enso Oyj 15 Unlock Company Profile
Teknologian Tutkimuskeskus VTT 15 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Shell is one of the leading patents filers in biofuel production for the oil and gas industry. Shell is also the world’s largest distributor of biofuels. Its research is aimed at producing more efficient, low-carbon biofuels primarily for blending applications. The company has research collaborations with leading biotechnology companies and academic institutions. Some other key patent filers in the space include UPM-Kymmene, Neste, and IFP Energies nouvelles.

In terms of application diversity, Enerkem leads the pack, while Sunshine Kaidi New and Corbion stood in the second and third positions, respectively. Canadian biofuels producer, Enerkem, has the most diverse applications range of patents in biofuel production. It specializes in the production of renewable methanol and ethanol from non-recyclable, non-compostable municipal solid waste. Its proprietary thermochemical technology can assimilate a variety of feedstock such as solid waste, mixed plastic waste, and biomass residues.

By means of geographic reach, Gevo held the top position, followed by RAG-Stiftung and Carbonscape. Gevo is a US-based renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels company. It primarily focuses on technology development in the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and renewable natural gas (RNG) from agricultural feedstock.

With increasing number of government establishments pushing for biofuel blending with conventional fossil fuel-based products such as gasoline and diesel, the demand for biofuel is expected to rise. Leaders in biofuel production technologies stand to gain from this trend in the long run.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the oil & gas industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) in Oil and 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.