The oil and gas industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is 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 523,000 patents filed and granted in the oil and gas industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in oil & gas: hydrocarbon lubricantsBuy 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

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 60+ 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 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 hydrocarbon-based lubricants

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Chemours 250 Unlock Company Profile
Idemitsu Kosan 181 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 126 Unlock Company Profile
Arkema 113 Unlock Company Profile
Exxon Mobil 105 Unlock Company Profile
ENEOS 82 Unlock Company Profile
DuPont de Nemours 74 Unlock Company Profile
AGC 70 Unlock Company Profile
JX Nippon Oil and Energy 58 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Oil 57 Unlock Company Profile
TotalEnergies 50 Unlock Company Profile
Shell 48 Unlock Company Profile
NCH 45 Unlock Company Profile
RAG-Stiftung 36 Unlock Company Profile
Berkshire Hathaway 34 Unlock Company Profile
Fuchs Petrolub 29 Unlock Company Profile
Chevron U. S. A. 24 Unlock Company Profile
Energy Transfer 22 Unlock Company Profile
SK Innovation 21 Unlock Company Profile
Dow 18 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 17 Unlock Company Profile
BASF 16 Unlock Company Profile
Ingersoll Rand 16 Unlock Company Profile
Kyodo Yushi 14 Unlock Company Profile
DiversiTech 14 Unlock Company Profile
Neste 12 Unlock Company Profile
Lanxess 11 Unlock Company Profile
Adeka 11 Unlock Company Profile
NTT 11 Unlock Company Profile
Brasscorp 9 Unlock Company Profile
Ergon 8 Unlock Company Profile
Valvoline 7 Unlock Company Profile
RPL 7 Unlock Company Profile
LyondellBasell Industries 7 Unlock Company Profile
Avril SCA 6 Unlock Company Profile
Klueber Lubrication Muenchen 6 Unlock Company Profile
Whirlpool 6 Unlock Company Profile
China National Petroleum 5 Unlock Company Profile
Corteva 5 Unlock Company Profile
NTN 5 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 4 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 4 Unlock Company Profile
Oleon 4 Unlock Company Profile
AREVA T&D 3 Unlock Company Profile
Brother Industries 3 Unlock Company Profile
KRATON Polymers Research 3 Unlock Company Profile
HCS Group 3 Unlock Company Profile
Inolex Chemical 3 Unlock Company Profile
Kraton 2 Unlock Company Profile
Carrier Global 2 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

The leaders in hydrocarbon-based lubricants patent fillings include Chemours, Idemitsu, 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 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.