The oil and gas industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for improved safety and productivity and risk mitigation, and growing importance of technologies such as AI, IoT, and digital twins. 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: Oil well fracking. Buy 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 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 and 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 and gas industry

Oil well fracking is a key innovation area in oil and gas

Hydraulic fracturing, also referred to as fracking, is a process of fracturing deep underground sedimentary formations by using pressurised liquids for extracting oil and natural gas.

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 oil well fracking.

Key players in oil well fracking – 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 oil well fracking

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Halliburton 1164 Unlock Company Profile
Weatherford International 869 Unlock Company Profile
Shell 625 Unlock Company Profile
Schlumberger 411 Unlock Company Profile
Baker Hughes 382 Unlock Company Profile
Marathon Oil 136 Unlock Company Profile
China Petrochemical 113 Unlock Company Profile
China National Petroleum 104 Unlock Company Profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 99 Unlock Company Profile
Equinor 98 Unlock Company Profile
Evolution Well Services 97 Unlock Company Profile
Exxon Mobil 89 Unlock Company Profile
Precision Energy Services 73 Unlock Company Profile
Enventure Global Technology 71 Unlock Company Profile
Welltec 66 Unlock Company Profile
RPC 60 Unlock Company Profile
U.S. Well Services 46 Unlock Company Profile
Dril-Quip 41 Unlock Company Profile
NCS Multistage Holdings 40 Unlock Company Profile
TotalEnergies 38 Unlock Company Profile
Yantai Jereh Oilfield Services Group 34 Unlock Company Profile
InflowControl 33 Unlock Company Profile
Eni 30 Unlock Company Profile
L3Harris Technologies 30 Unlock Company Profile
CNPC Chuanqing Drilling Engineering 28 Unlock Company Profile
Prad Research And Development 28 Unlock Company Profile
Chevron U. S. A 23 Unlock Company Profile
Xyleco 22 Unlock Company Profile
Bisn Tec 20 Unlock Company Profile
Darcy Technologies 20 Unlock Company Profile
NOV 19 Unlock Company Profile
Swelltec 18 Unlock Company Profile
ConocoPhillips 15 Unlock Company Profile
Absolute Completion Technologies 15 Unlock Company Profile
Linc Energy 15 Unlock Company Profile
Statoil 15 Unlock Company Profile
Pyrophase 13 Unlock Company Profile
Trican Well Service 13 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens Energy 12 Unlock Company Profile
Magnesium Elektron 12 Unlock Company Profile
Kirby 12 Unlock Company Profile
Enservco 12 Unlock Company Profile
Key Energy Services 12 Unlock Company Profile
Oak Point Energy 12 Unlock Company Profile
Cenovus Energy 12 Unlock Company Profile
TechnipFMC 10 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 9 Unlock Company Profile
Suncor Energy 9 Unlock Company Profile
Kenda Capital 9 Unlock Company Profile
Deep Casing Tools 8 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Halliburton is one of the leading patent filers on hydraulic fracking, equipment and services. It recently deployed its SmartFleet intelligent fracturing system for a major operator in the Permian Basin. The company, along with Voltagrid, also deployed an advanced electric fracturing solution for Chesapeake Energy in the Marcellus Shale. It also launched Expressfiber, a fibre optic cable product that provides real-time actionable insights into fracture growth and well interference.

Weatherford is another leading patent filer, catering to the fracking market with its automated technologies to ensure effectiveness in hydraulic fracturing operations.

Fracking has revolutionised the US energy landscape and helped the country to become one of the top oil and gas producers in the world. The ability to scale at lower costs and with greater recoverable resources per well is a key element for the fracking industry.

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.

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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.