The oil & gas industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by carbon emission concerns, energy transition, and energy security aspects, and growing importance of technologies such as carbon capture, low-carbon hydrogen production, and energy storage. 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 Hydrogen in oil & gas: reformed H2 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.

Reformed H2 production is a key innovation area in hydrogen

Reformed hydrogen production involves the production of hydrogen through the reforming of hydrocarbons, such as natural gas, followed by purification and compression. The reforming process typically involves steam methane reforming (SMR) or auto-thermal reforming (ATR) to produce a synthesis gas, which is then converted into hydrogen through a series of purification steps.

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 260+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established oil & gas companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of reformed H2 production.

Key players in reformed H2 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 reformed H2 production

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Air Liquide 719 Unlock Company Profile
Linde 450 Unlock Company Profile
ThyssenKrupp 356 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 333 Unlock Company Profile
Air Products and Chemicals 234 Unlock Company Profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 213 Unlock Company Profile
Exxon Mobil 209 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 207 Unlock Company Profile
Casale 191 Unlock Company Profile
Halliburton 155 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson Matthey 152 Unlock Company Profile
Haldor Topsoe 151 Unlock Company Profile
Shell 129 Unlock Company Profile
IFP Energies nouvelles 128 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 113 Unlock Company Profile
Chevron 100 Unlock Company Profile
ENEOS 89 Unlock Company Profile
Shell International Research 86 Unlock Company Profile
Osaka Gas 83 Unlock Company Profile
NACCO Materials Handling Group 75 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 71 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Steel 70 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung SDI 67 Unlock Company Profile
ThermoChem Recovery International 65 Unlock Company Profile
Grannus 64 Unlock Company Profile
Fluor 62 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 61 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Seika Chemicals 57 Unlock Company Profile
Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National 57 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Oil 53 Unlock Company Profile
Cosmo Energy 53 Unlock Company Profile
Inpex 53 Unlock Company Profile
WATT Fuel Cell 51 Unlock Company Profile
Chiyoda 50 Unlock Company Profile
Japan Petroleum Exploration 49 Unlock Company Profile
LG 48 Unlock Company Profile
Kobe Steel 48 Unlock Company Profile
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Toegepast-Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek 40 Unlock Company Profile
Naval Group 40 Unlock Company Profile
8 Rivers Capital 39 Unlock Company Profile
Pentair 39 Unlock Company Profile
Ballard Power Systems 38 Unlock Company Profile
Entegris 38 Unlock Company Profile
BayoTech 38 Unlock Company Profile
Lurgi 35 Unlock Company Profile
Arkema 35 Unlock Company Profile
Moody's 34 Unlock Company Profile
Renaissance Energy Investment 34 Unlock Company Profile
KBR 33 Unlock Company Profile
BASF 33 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Air Liquide is one of the leading patent filers for reformed hydrogen production. It is among the largest industrial gas vendor in the world. It is one of the largest producers of hydrogen through autothermal reforming process, which offers a higher rate of carbon capture post syngas formation. Apart from natural gas, the company also employs biogas reforming procedures to produce hydrogen. Some other key patent filers in the space include Linde, ThyssenKrupp, and Panasonic.

In terms of application diversity, Halliburton leads the pack, while Saudi Aramco and Lurgi stood in the second and third positions respectively.

By means of geographic reach, WATT Fuel Cell held the top position, followed by Pentair and Entegris. WATT is primarily a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology developer and manufacturer. The company employs an innovative catalytic partial oxidation (CPOX) reforming technique for hydrogen production, which improves the efficiency of its SOFC product offering.

Reformed hydrogen production is the dominant hydrogen production method across the world. Most of this produced hydrogen is locally consumed by the producer, which primarily entail oil & gas and petrochemical companies. Through the addition of carbon capture technologies, reformed hydrogen production method can lead to significant low-carbon hydrogen production.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the oil & gas industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Hydrogen 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.