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: syngas 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.

Syngas production is a key innovation area in hydrogen

Syngas, or synthesis gas is a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide, produced by partial oxidation, steam reforming, or gasification of various hydrocarbon feedstocks. The syngas can be further processed into a variety of chemicals, such as methanol, ammonia, and synthetic fuels.

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

Key players in syngas 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 syngas production

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Exxon Mobil 295 Unlock Company Profile
Casale 280 Unlock Company Profile
Haldor Topsoe 233 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson Matthey 135 Unlock Company Profile
ThyssenKrupp 117 Unlock Company Profile
Linde 105 Unlock Company Profile
Air Liquide 87 Unlock Company Profile
LanzaTech Global 72 Unlock Company Profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 66 Unlock Company Profile
Shell 66 Unlock Company Profile
Air Products and Chemicals 49 Unlock Company Profile
Grannus 40 Unlock Company Profile
KBR 36 Unlock Company Profile
Kobe Steel 34 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 31 Unlock Company Profile
ZEG Power 31 Unlock Company Profile
BP 31 Unlock Company Profile
IFP Energies nouvelles 30 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 27 Unlock Company Profile
Maire Tecnimont 26 Unlock Company Profile
GreatPoint Energy 26 Unlock Company Profile
Mcalister Technologies 25 Unlock Company Profile
Velocys 23 Unlock Company Profile
TotalEnergies 21 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 20 Unlock Company Profile
Fluor 19 Unlock Company Profile
NiQuan Energy Trinidad 17 Unlock Company Profile
Gyco 15 Unlock Company Profile
GTLpetrol 14 Unlock Company Profile
Calix 13 Unlock Company Profile
InEnTec 11 Unlock Company Profile
Sure Champion Investment 11 Unlock Company Profile
Halliburton 10 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Oil 10 Unlock Company Profile
Chevron U. S. A. 10 Unlock Company Profile
FuelCell Energy 10 Unlock Company Profile
Pioneer Energy 10 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi Zosen 8 Unlock Company Profile
Petroleo Brasileiro 8 Unlock Company Profile
Alstom 8 Unlock Company Profile
Kawasaki Heavy Industries 8 Unlock Company Profile
G4 Insights 8 Unlock Company Profile
Equinor 8 Unlock Company Profile
Global Gateways Lux HoldCo 7 Unlock Company Profile
BASF 7 Unlock Company Profile
Chevron 7 Unlock Company Profile
Toyo Engineering 7 Unlock Company Profile
Moody's 6 Unlock Company Profile
ZTEK 6 Unlock Company Profile
Ritaj Inv 6 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Exxon Mobil is one of the leading patent filers in syngas production techniques, which has applications in hydrogen production. It is one of the largest refiners in the world, which is critically dependent on hydrogen for several refining processes. It is also one of the largest proponents of evolving blue hydrogen production in the world. Some other key patent filers in the space include Casale, Haldor Topsoe, and Johnson Matthey.

In terms of application diversity, Chevron leads the pack, while Equinor and Gyco stood in the second and third positions, respectively. The US-based oil major, Chevron is among the leading refiners and petrochemicals producers in the world. In August 2023, it reported achieving waste-to-hydrogen production that incorporates an innovative syngas production technique to convert organic green waste. The production facility that was built in collaboration with other technology vendors is located in Richmond, California.

By means of geographic reach, LanzaTech Global held the top position, followed by Exxon Mobil and Gyco. LanzaTech is a prominent technology vendor that offers technology licensing services to large-scale basic industry leaders. It has helped set up several facilities in North America, Asia, Europe and Africa that depend on syngas production.

Syngas production is a key step in hydrogen production from natural gas. Technological knowhow about syngas production can significantly help attain leadership position in hydrogen production, and therefore become a key proponent of the hydrogen economy.

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.