The oil and gas industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for improved productivity, safety and sustainability, with growing interest in technologies such as green hydrogen, fuel cells, and carbon capture and storage (CCS). In the last three years alone, there have been over 534,000 patents filed and granted in the oil and gas industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Oil & Gas: Hydrocarbon based lubricants.

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.

40+ innovations will shape the oil & gas industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the oil and 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, drilling simulation and modelling, carbonated water injection (CWI) for oil recovery, and automated compressed gas filling are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Liquified gas shipping vessels and oil well fracking are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are compressed bio-fuel shipping vessels and cryogenic natural gas liquefaction, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for the oil & gas industry

Hydrocarbon-based lubricants is a key innovation area in oil & gas

Hydrocarbon-based lubricants are generally made up of paraffinic and naphthenic compounds. These are essentially heavier compounds obtained during crude oil refining. Petrochemical companies add additives to these compounds to impart specific properties, transforming them into lubricants and other useful products. Depending upon the end-application, the properties of hydrocarbon-based lubricants, such as viscosity, can be attained.

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 30 companies, spanning technology vendors, established oil & gas companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of hydrocarbon-based lubricants.

Key players in hydrocarbon-based lubricants – 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 hydrocarbon-based lubricants

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Honeywell International 288 Unlock company profile
Chemours 224 Unlock company profile
Idemitsu Kosan 160 Unlock company profile
ENEOS Holdings 109 Unlock company profile
Arkema 109 Unlock company profile
Exxon Mobil 101 Unlock company profile
DuPont de Nemours 75 Unlock company profile
AGC 63 Unlock company profile
NCH 43 Unlock company profile
Nippon Oil 43 Unlock company profile
TotalEnergies 41 Unlock company profile
Berkshire Hathaway 31 Unlock company profile
Chevron U. S. A 27 Unlock company profile
RAG-Stiftung 26 Unlock company profile
Fuchs Petrolub 25 Unlock company profile
Panasonic 24 Unlock company profile
Energy Transfer 16 Unlock company profile
SK Innovation 14 Unlock company profile
Trane Technologies 13 Unlock company profile
Shell 12 Unlock company profile
NTT 11 Unlock company profile
Neste 11 Unlock company profile
Adeka 11 Unlock company profile
BASF 10 Unlock company profile
Dow 10 Unlock company profile
Ergon 8 Unlock company profile
Kyodo Yushi 7 Unlock company profile
RPL Holdings 7 Unlock company profile
Klueber Lubrication 5 Unlock company profile
Valvoline 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

The leaders in hydrocarbon-based lubricants patent fillings include Honeywell, ExxonMobil, and DuPont. Lubricants are used to reduce wear and tear in rotating machinery, while ensuring smoother operations. Therefore, lubricants are consumed in a variety of industry verticals where heavy machinery is found. The use of lubricants is also found in end-consumer sectors for tasks such as vehicle maintenance. 

Honeywell offers lubricants for industrial consumption, which include polyethylene waxes and other high-performance products.

ExxonMobil’s lubricant offerings include marine lubricants, such as engine oils and lubricants for auxiliary machinery. Its lubricants offerings in the automobile sector include engine oils and gear oils. It also offers other industrial lubricants for equipment used in energy, petrochemical, and manufacturing sectors.

DuPont offers lubricants for compressors, pumps and other multipurpose oils for industrial applications. It also offers refrigeration lubricants for safe and efficient operation of mobile air conditioning systems. Additionally, it offers lubricants and fluids for automotive applications.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the oil & gas industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Top 20 Oil & Gas Themes 2022.


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.