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UNCONVENTIONAL OIL 2018/ key indicators

Recent Inventions / Brief Overview

A brief analysis of key indicators for patent applications registered in the patent offices around the world in 2018 and belonging to the subject related to unconventional oil production (Heavy and extra heavy oil, Oil shale, Oil sands) is provided in the present review. In total, 974 documents from 28 patent offices around the world were found on this subject.

The patent offices of the USA and China, where more than 43% from the total number of documents were filed, were the leaders in terms of the registration of new patent applications. In total, 85% of novel technical solutions drawn up in the form of applications for inventions were accumulated in the top 10 patent offices.


Distribution of patent applications, published by the top 10 patent offices

Patent officeNumber of documentsShare of total, %
United States Patent and Trademark Office25826.5
State Intellectual Property Office, China16416.8
European Patent Office858.7
World Intellectual Property Organization747.6
Canadian Intellectual Property Office697.1
National Institute of Industrial Property, Brazil697.1
Federal Service for Intellectual Property, Russia323.3
Mexican Institute of Industrial Property272.8
Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia242.5
Eurasian Patent Organization222.3

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies

The highest inventive activity was demonstrated by the representatives of the USA, who were the authors or co-authors in 519 patent applications. Also, in the total number of applicants, 113 were the residents of the USA (41%). In comparison, Canada was represented by 61 resident applicants, while China – by 37.

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

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies

The problems of high expenses are marked as the technical problems at which the technical solutions were aimed in 35% of all patent documents (High capital costs of component production; High capital costs of exploration and infrastructure; High capital or running costs in general; High running costs of repair and replacement; High running costs of maintenance). In almost 35% of cases the applicants were focused on the improvement of the efficiency of technological processes (Low efficiency of primary production; Low efficiency of secondary processing; Low production efficiency in general). Substantial attention was also focussed by the inventors on environmental problems and on the consumption of necessary resources – 22% of cases (Environmental balance and protection; Energy, gas or water consumption).

Distribution of technical problems in the patent applications found

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies
EBP - Environmental balance and protection; EGWC - Energy, gas or water consumption; EXP - Exploration problems; HCCP - High capital costs of component production; HCEI - High capital costs of exploration and infrastructure; HCG - High capital or running costs in general; HCRR - High running costs of repair and replacement; HRCM - High running costs of maintenance; LEPP - Low efficiency of primary production; LESP - Low efficiency of secondary processing; LPE - Low production efficiency in general; UP - Unclear problem

Among the technological processes of unconventional oil production, the inventors demonstrated the strongest interest in relation to the technologies of Steam injection – 31.5% of applications, as well as in Chemical stimulation, Treatment and refinement, Drilling and well elements, which in total were disclosed in 35% of patent applications. The authors mentioned Oil shale as the technology sector their inventions were referred to in 10% of cases, while Oil sands – in 31.5%. In other cases, either heavy oil was mentioned, or it was impossible to specify the technology sector.

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