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UNCONVENTIONAL GAS 2019/ key indicators

Recent Inventions / Brief Overview

This review provides key statistical results of the analysis of patent applications filed with world patent offices in 2019 on topics related to unconventional gas production including associated petroleum gas (APG), coal bed methane (CBM) and methane hydrates (GHD) which were collected from generally-accessible sources as of the date of this publication. In total, 564 documents were selected for consideration, which were submitted by 270 applicants from 17 countries and registered in 20 patent offices around the world (GHD – 138, CBM – 180, APG – 246).

Patent document retrieval and processing procedures are available on the Advanced Energy Technologies website. Patent applications were assigned to specific topics exclusively on the basis of the information stated by applicants in the texts of the patent applications. A breakdown of patent documents found by the patent offices of the world is provided below. The subject related to APG had the broadest geographical coverage – 18 patent offices.

Distribution of patent applications, published by the patent offices

OfficeAPGCBMGHDTotal 2019
CNIPA (CN)3411062206
USPTO (US)832515123
INPI (BR)187328
JPO (JP)11-1425
IP Australia (AU)910322
NIPO (NO)1-45
IPO (GB)1247
IMPI (MX)6--6
CIPO (CA)86721
KIPO (KR)7-411
IPOS (SG)21-3
INPI (AR)-112
DPMA (DE)5--5
INPI (FR)2--2
IPONZ (NZ)--11
Total 2019246180138564

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies

The most popular with applicants were the Chinese Patent Offices (CNIPA) and the United States (USPTO), where 36.5% and 21.8% of patent applications were registered, respectively. More than 20 of applications on the subject under consideration were also found in EPO (EPC states), WIPO, INPI (Brazil), JPO (JP), IP Australia (AU) and CIPO (CA).

The residents of United States and China dominate camong applicants with the aggregate share of patent applications exceeding 74%. This year's unconditional leaders are the representatives of US (more than 40% of applications) and China (more than 34% of applications).

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

OfficeAPGCBMGHDTotal 2019
Total 2019250183141574

*Hereinafter, the number of documents displayed in the charts and tables may be inconsistent with the total number of documents in the selection examined. This is related to the fact that in certain documents some bibliographic indicators may be taken into account more than once in one document.

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies

Noticeable activity in the patenting process was also shown by the representatives of Japan, Canada, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Norway, France, Russia and the Netherlands. The share of participation for each of these countries was from 1.7% to 5.0%.

The diagrams provided below show the distribution of patent documents by the number of technology elements mentioned therein, which act as the indicators of detailed breakdown of production processes for each of the three subjects under consideration.

For patent applications related to APG, the most highly-demanded element of technological order of product-grade associated gas production was the preparation operations complex that includes, inter alia, separation of oil from gas, dehydration, removal of hydrogen sulphide, carbon dioxide, etc. from gas. 19% to 22% of the inventions were also dedicated to the useful utilization of associated gas by means of Gas-to-liquid and Gas-to-power technologies.

Proportional breakdown of patent applications by the number of APG technology elements mentioned therein

AGM  Associated gas metering; FP  Flaring process; GTL Gas to liquid; GTP  Gas to power; – Preparation; TA  Transport and storage; UI  Underground injection

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies

In the case of APG, in most of the patent applications the inventors aimed to resolve the problems related to Low efficiency / Production process. This problem was mentioned in more than 20% of the total number of problems mentioned. The issues of Environmental and social impact were of considerable importance with mentions in 74 patent applications. Also, noticeable positions were taken by the problems of High OPEX / CAPEX/ Equipment and consumables and Low efficiency / Gas treatment.

For the technologies of coal bed methane most frequently mentioned operations related to the Exploration, Drilling, Production and Hydraulic fracturing. To a substantially smaller degree, the interests of inventors concerned Treatment & transportation and methane utilization technologies.

Proportional breakdown of patent applications by the number of CBM technology elements mentioned therein

DR  Drilling; E  Exploration; HF – Hydraulic fracturing; MTE  Methane to electricity; MTL – Methane to liquid;  Production; TT  Treatment & transportation

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies

In the case of CBM, in the majority of cases the technical solutions proposed in the patent applications concerned the problem of low efficiency of production processes.  Among other problems, a fairly large number of inventions was aimed at solving Low efficiency caused by specific features of reservoir and High OPEX / Operation and expendables. 

For patent applications related to the subject of methane production from hydrates, three major technological groups are characteristic – exploration, activation of hydrates, and drilling or capture of methane. The share of patent applications that concerned the aspects of exploration of hydrate formations comprised 29.3%; for activation the share was 39.6%, while the aggregate share of operations of drilling and capturing or extracting methane was 28.1%. The number of inventions dedicated to the issues of Infrastructure & security and Treatment & transportation in 2019 was minimal.

Proportional breakdown of patent applications by the number of GHD technology elements mentioned therein

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies

In the majority of cases technological preferences of the inventors were related to Low efficiency of primary processes and secondary processes methane production from GHD.

In most cases, various methods prevailed in patent decisions, which were mentioned in more than 50% of patent applications. Devices were mentioned much less frequently
in 34% of patent applications, and compositions only in 13%.

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.