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.

Machine Learning on Permian Seismic?

Pioneer Natural Resources is improving the accuracy of its Midland basin depth-models by up to 40%, using a machine-learning algorithm to re-calibrate its seismic from well logs. Faster drilling and better production rates should follow.

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Why the Thunder Said?

Energy transition is underway. Or more specifically, five energy transitions are underway at the same time. They include the rise of renewables, shale oil, digital technologies, environmental improvements and new forms of energy demand. This is our rationale for establishing a new research consultancy, Thunder Said Energy, at the nexus of energy-technology and energy-economics.

This 8-page report outlines the ‘four goals’ of Thunder Said Energy; and how we hope we can help your process…


Pages 2-5 show how disruptive energy technologies are re-shaping the world: We see potential for >20Mbpd of Permian production, for natural gas to treble, for ‘digital’ to double Oil Major FCF, and for the emergence of new, multi-billion dollar companies and sub-industries amidst the energy transition.

Page 6 shows how we are ‘scoring’ companies: to see who is embracing new technology most effectively, by analysing >1,000 patents and >400 technical papers so far.

Page 7 compiles quotes from around the industry, calling for a greater focus on technology.

Page 8 explains our research process, and upcoming publication plans.