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UNCONVENTIONAL OIL 2019/ key indicators

Recent Inventions / Brief Overview

The current review includes key statistical indicators that were identified as a result of the analysis of patent applications filed in the patent offices around the world in 2019 on topics related to unconventional oil production. In total, during the patent search, as of the date of this review, 1,643 patent applications were identified, which were filed by 424 applicants from 25 countries and registered in 30 world patent offices.
Patent document retrieval and processing procedures are available on the Advanced Energy Technologies website.

The patent offices of the China and USA, where more than 47% from the total number of documents were filed, were the leaders in terms of the registration of new patent applications. In total, 89% 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

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies
CNIPA (State Intellectual Property Office, China); USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office); WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization); EPO (European Patent Office); CIPO (Canadian Intellectual Property Office); INPI (National Institute of Industrial Property, Brazil); JPO (Industrial Property Office, Japan); IMPI (Mexican Institute of Industrial Property); IP(GB) (IPO (GB) Intellectual Property Office); IP Australia (AU)

The highest inventive activity was demonstrated by the representatives of the USA, who were the authors or co-authors in 804 (47%) patent applications. Also, in the total number of applicants 125 were the residents of the USA (30%). In comparison, China was represented by 132 resident applicants, while Canada – by 73.

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


CountryApplicants countTotal applications 2019Share of total, %

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies

The problems of "Low efficiency of primary production" were aimed in 25% of all patent documents. Substantial attention was also focused 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). In almost 16% of cases the applicants were focused on the improvement of "High running costs of repair and replacement".

In over 1180 patent documents, inventors chose different methods as the type of technical solution. Various devises were mentioned in 833 documents, compositions - in 619.
In general, all patent documents were assigned to 1,403 individual IPC subgroups WIPO, with the subgroup E21B 43/24 (using heat, e.g. steam injection) being the most popular - about 3% of the total share.

Technological interests of patent participants

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies
CS - Chemical stimulation; DAW - Drilling and well elements; DDH - Directional drilling or hydraulic fracturing; GWF - Gas injection or water flooding; ISC - In-situ combustion; OU- Other unclassified; RPIE - Reservoir permeability improvement and extraction; SEI - Surface exploration and infrastructure; STI - Steam injection; SUM - Surface or underground mining; TR - Treatment and refinement; UAM - Undefined activation method; URE - Underground reservoir exploration; UTR - Uncommon thermal recovery; WP - Waste processing

Among the technological processes of unconventional oil production, the inventors demonstrated the strongest interest in relation to the technologies of Chemical stimulation – 21.4% of applications, as well as in Steam injection, Directional drilling or hydraulic fracturing, Gas injection or water flooding, Drilling and well elements, which in total were disclosed in 55% of patent applications. The authors mentioned Oil shale as the technology sector their inventions were referred to in 8% of cases, while Oil sands – in 25.6% and heavy oil - 20%.

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.