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Coal Seam Methane 2017 / key indicators

Recent Inventions / Brief Overview

Controlled extraction of methane from coal formations is an important challenge, both in terms of preserving ecological balance and to utilize additional source of fossil fuel. The present patent review provides essential statistical figures of the patenting activity of inventors in 2017 in the field of exploration, production and processing of Coal Bed Methane, Coal Mine Methane and Abandoned Mine Methane. In total, as of the date of this publication 577 patent applications have been collected for analysis, published in 24 patent offices by 260 applicants from 16 countries of the world.

As seen from the table provided below, in 2017 the majority of patent applications published on this subject were concentrated in the patent offices of China and the USA, and their aggregate share notably exceeded half of the total number of patent documents, thus bolstering last year's trends. Other quite popular offices were CIPO (Canada), EPO, IMPI (Mexico), INRI (Brazil), IP Australia, WIPO and Rospatent (Russia). All of them, excluding international offices, belong to the leading petroleum-producing countries. The ten most popular offices accumulated 90% of all patent applications published in 2017.

Distribution of patent applications, published by the top 10 patent offices
Patent office Number of documents Share of total, %

Patent officeNumber of documentsShare of total, %
CIPO (CA) Canadian Intellectual Property Office264.5
CNIPA (CN) National Intellectual Property Administration19133.1
EPO European Patent Organisation325.5
IMPI (MX) Mexican Institute of Industrial Property122.1
INPI (BR) National Institute of Industrial Property295
IP Australia (AU) IP Australia345.9
MyIPO (MY) Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia142.4
Rospatent (RU) Federal Service for Intellectual Property162.8
USPTO (US) United States Patent and Trademark Office11720.3
WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization518.8

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies

Distribution of countries by the number of patent applications filed by their residents has a fundamentally different nature. Here, indisputable leadership belongs to the residents of the USA, who have 44% of the intellectual property in the form of patent applications. During the last year the share of Chinese residents has grown substantially (the number of applications had increased by 20 documents during the year), with more than 31% (almost 7% growth) of the total number of patent applications in 2017. The residents of the Netherlands, Australia and Canada each registered more than 3% of applications. In 2017 the residents of Saudi Arabia and Switzerland entered the top 10 list in this regard.

Distribution of countries of the world by the number of resident applicants in patent applications

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies

Several patent offices were roughly equal in terms of popularity among non-residents, with more than 20 respective applications published in each – CNIPA (China), USPTO (USA), CIPO (Canada), EPO, INRI (Brazil), and IP Australia. Nevertheless, the USA and Brazil patent offices were the most popular (with 34 and 29 non-resident documents, respectively), and what is more, representatives of 10 different countries registered their applications in USPTO, which is more than in other offices. In Brazilian, Mexican and Argentinean patent offices 100% of patent applications were registered by non-residents. In Australian, Canadian and Russian offices this share comprised from 85% to 97%.

The vast majority of patent applications disclosed technological aspects related to Coal Bed Methane (442 documents), with few documents concerning Coal Mine Methane and Abandoned Mine Methane (36 patent applications in total).

The inventors in their patent solutions mostly refer to the problem of "Low efficiency of production processes" - it was mentioned in more than 32% of cases. Such problems as the "High costs of production processes", "High OPEX / Operation and expendables", "High CAPEX / Equipment" were also addressed in more than 100 patent applications each. In addition, the subject related to the group of problems "Environmental and social impact" was popular enough, it was referred to by the inventors in 91 patent documents.

Distribution of technical problems in the patent applications found

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies
LERF - Low efficiency caused by specific features of reservoir; LEPP - Low efficiency of production processes; LEST - Low efficiency of surface treatment; LEG -  Low efficiency in general; HCPP - High costs of production processes;   HCE - High CAPEX / Equipment;    HOOE - High OPEX Operation and expendables; UE - Unaccounted expenses; HCT -  High costs of transportation; HCG - High costs in General; ESI - Environmental and social impact; AOP - Administrative and organizational problems; PU - Problem unidentified

Two groups of the WIPO's International Patent Classification (IPC) noticeably stand out among the others by the number of mentions in the bibliographic data: E21B 43/00 (Methods or apparatus for obtaining oil, gas, water, soluble or meltable materials or a slurry of minerals from wells) and C09K 8/00 (Compositions for drilling of boreholes or wells; Compositions for treating boreholes or wells, e.g. for completion or for remedial operations). The former is assigned to 356 patent applications, the latter – to 193, while their aggregate share in the total number of IPC groups assigned is 28%.

In the list of technological processes, the inventors demonstrated the strongest interest in (in descending order): Hydraulic fracturing, Production, Drilling, Exploration, Treatment & transportation, Coal to liquid. The share of other technological steps was insignificant.

More detailed information on the methodology as well as on the results of patent researches in the most important fields of contemporary energy industry can be found at Advanced Energy Technologies.