Fracking patents reach all time high

27 May 2014
By Edd Gent
Mobile version
Share |
Big oil and gas firms are increasingly patenting technology related to fracking operations

Big oil and gas firms are increasingly patenting technology related to fracking operations

The number of patents filed worldwide for fracking technology reached a record high in the last year, according to figures from Thomson Reuters.

There were 706 patent applications filed worldwide for fracking technology in 2013, a rise of 28 per cent from the 550 applications filed in 2012 according to Thomason Reuter’s legal wing, suggesting that major players in oil and gas services are battling for control of valuable intellectual property in the industry.

In recent years, oil and gas services giants have shifted more of their research and development programmes towards building portfolios of intellectual property in fracking. The most prolific filers of these patents in 2013 were large American companies, including Halliburton, Baker Hughes and Schlumberger.

Gwilym Roberts, partner at intellectual property specialists Kilburn & Strode, said: “Fracking is now becoming a global industry rather than just an American one. The big players in the oil and gas services sector are manoeuvring to build the strongest possible global portfolios of intellectual property in this fast-growing sector.

“These figures show that in fracking, access to intellectual property and even small technological advantages over competitors is becoming ever more important.

“Traditionally, finding new reserves has been the most hotly contested area of the energy sector, now developing proprietary technology to extract hard to tap resources and competition over outsourcing contracts is catching up.

“Whilst it has been IT businesses like Apple and Samsung that have acquired reputations as the most voracious acquirers and most aggressive defenders of patents, a range of industries are also speeding up the rate that they are building their intellectual property portfolios. They are doing this not only to improve licensing revenues but also to shut out competitors.”

A significant number of fracking patents filed in 2013 are focused on expanding fracking operations to remote locations, according to Thomson Reuters, with patents being filed for systems to provide power to isolated fracking projects, and techniques to heat the water needed in fracking procedures without electricity.

Roberts added: “Oil and gas services companies are now strongly focused on expanding their fracking operations worldwide. A lot of the patents now being filed in this area reflect this, as companies in the sector endeavour to open projects in more challenging locations around the world.

“Fracking already makes up a large part of overall US gas production, and the businesses in the sector are aiming to secure the same position worldwide. Increasing fracking operations overseas is a huge part of that.”

But the presence of Russian and Chinese oil and gas businesses such as Tatneft, Petrochina and Daqing Oilfield in the list of prolific fracking patent filers in 2013 is a relatively new development, as Russian businesses in particular have not traditionally been as heavy users of the global patent system as US and European oil and gas companies.

Roberts said: “At one time, it was rare to see Russian businesses use the patent system or build portfolios of intellectual property, but this is changing as more businesses become aware of the potential for securing royalties from competitors by patenting vital technology.”

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1607

"As the dust settles after the referendum result, we consider what happens next. We also look forward to an international summer of sport."

E&T jobs

  • Chair in Integrated Sensor Technology

    The University of Edinburgh
    • Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh

    The University of Edinburgh is one of the world’s top 20 institutions of higher education.....

    • Recruiter: The University of Edinburgh

    Apply for this job

  • Principal Electrical Engineer - Power

    BAE Systems
    • Bristol, England / Cumbria, Barrow-In-Furness, England
    • Negotiable

    Principal Electrical Engineer - Power Join our Electrical Power team and help design the self-contained generation and distribution system for the Successor submarine - a new generation of submarine designed to carry the UK's independent nuclear deterrent

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Operations Supervisor (Mechanical/Electrical/Instrumentation)

    National Grid
    • England, Cambridgeshire
    • £33000 - £39000 per annum

    Operations Supervisor - (Mechanical/Electrical/Instrumentation) Salary: Circa £33k - 39k dependant on experience + vehicle and great additional benefits (share scheme, pension, potential bonus).Location: Wisbech - Cambridgeshire We currently have an excit

    • Recruiter: National Grid

    Apply for this job

  • Lead NDT Trainer

    BAE Systems
    • England, Lancashire
    • Competitive package

    Would you like to be involved with training UK and international teams in Non Destructive Inspection (NDI) to support the in service fleet (Typhoon Tornado, and Hawk)?

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Systems Design - Emerging Portfolio

    • Bristol
    • Competitive Salary & Benefits

    What?s the opportunity?   There are fantastic opportunities in Systems Design for engineers to work within Future Systems. These are highly visible, fast paced roles, in...

    • Recruiter: MBDA

    Apply for this job

  • Metering Engineer

    Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
    • Teddington, United Kingdom
    • £24,109 - £27,961 plus EO Electronics PE of £8,090.00

    We are now looking for a Metering Engineer to deliver RD’s In-Service Testing (IST) scheme for gas and electricity meters.

    • Recruiter: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

    Apply for this job

  • Head of Operational Estates

    Premium job

    The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust
    • Shrewsbury, Shropshire
    • £46,625 to £57,640 per annum

    As an experienced Estates Manager, you will play a key role in helping to shape the future of the Estates service.

    • Recruiter: The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust

    Apply for this job

  • Engineering Project Manager - Electrical & Automation

    • York, North Yorkshire
    • c£45,000 + Car Allowance + Bonus + Excellent Benefits

    Nestlé Product Technology Centre in York currently has an excellent opportunity for an Engineering Project Manager

    • Recruiter: Nestle

    Apply for this job

  • Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) of Smart Building Solutions

    Premium job

    ETH Zurich
    • Zurich, Canton of Zürich (CH)

    The successful candidate is expected to develop a strong and visible research programme in the area of control and diagnostics of building systems

    • Recruiter: ETH Zurich

    Apply for this job

  • Process Controls Leader

    Premium job

    Phillips 66
    • Humber Refinery, South Killingholme, North Lincolnshire DN40 3DW
    • £60k - 75k plus extensive Compensation and benefits package, dependent upon experience

    Experienced Process Control Leader providing leadership and technical support for Oil Refinery. Extensive Compensation and benefits package.

    • Recruiter: Phillips 66

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶


Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T