Upstream technology leaders: weathering the downturn?

Leading technologies correlate 50-80% with ROACEs and -88% with costs in the energy industry. Hence, we assessed 6,000 patents from 2018-19, to determine which Energy Majors are best-placed to weather the downturn, benefit from dislocation and thrive in the recovery. This 14-page research note finds clear leaders in onshore, offshore, shale, LNG and digital, while others in the industry may be pulling back from upstream oil and gas.


Pages 2-4 quantify the importance of leading technologies in uplifting energy industry returns and deflating costs, including worked examples.

Pages 4-5 outline the added importance of technologies amidst the current downturn, its evolution and the industry’s potentially rapid recovery.

Page 6 explains how we use patents to identify technology leaders in energy.

Pages 7-13 explain who are the upstream technology leaders: onshore, offshore, in deep-water, unconventionals (shale), LNG and digital technologies. This informs which companies will emerge strongest from the current downturn, and how they may react amidst the dislocation.

Page 14 quantifies how upstream patent filings have changed YoY. Some Majors appear to be backing away from upstream technologies, possibly due to fears over the energy transitions, while others have stepped up their focus.

The work follows on from last year’s deep-dive report, identifying patent leaders in energy.