Drilling into the patent landscape of fracking

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Fracking has had an enormous impact on energy production in the US, and could potentially do the same in the rest of the world. Production of shale gas from fracking has increased ten-fold from 0.45 trillion cubic feet [12.6 billion cubic metres] in 2005 up to 7.1 tcf [200 bcm] in 2012, and this is expected to double to around 16.7 tcf [470 bcm] in 2040. 

Not surprisingly, this has been mirrored by an increase in patent filings that has matched this increase. 

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But there is more to patent analysis than simply counting patents

There is more to patents than just counting them – there is also enormous value in reviewing them to work out the key areas of activity, key patent filings and leading patents. This is the reason why Ambercite developed Network Patent Analysis (NPA). Using NPA, Ambercite is proud to release its latest white paper highlighting the leading areas of developments, owners and patents in the areas of fracking. This was based on a review of 2360 patent families, which grew to almost 100,000 patents by the time we considered citationally connected patents. NPA was then used to identify the leading 965 patents in this industry.

The results can be summarised in the likes of the network patent maps such as shown below, which shows the leading companies in the area of fracking – with these companies includes the likes Halliburton, Schlumberger, Shell, Exxon Mobil and similar large oil companies.

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We even take a detour in one of the more interesting patents we have seen to date, covering the use of nuclear bombs in fracking. To incredible to be true? Not at all, the technology was actually trialled several times

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More seriously, the patent data shows an unusual concentration in a few areas of development and few owners compared to some patent areas we are looking at. Overall this suggests an industry yet to mature – which may not be that surprising considering that it was only in 2002 that a company by the name of Devon Energy combined ‘slickwater hydraulic fracturing’ with the already established technology of horizontal drilling to create  the modern version of fracking

“That was the ‘aha’ moment. At that point, it was this worldwide breakthrough,”

Want to read more? Check out our white paper and accompanying patent landscape maps at our white papers page – and while you are there, check out other acclaimed white papers on Alzheimer’s treatments, smartphones and hybrid cars.

 

1 December 2014 update – effect of Halliburton acquisiton of Baker Hughes

At almost exactly the same time as this blog was published, Halliburton changed things completely with their announced acquisition of Baker Hughes. And what effect did this have?

Around about a 60% improvement in their fracking patent position – read more here (or click the part image below).

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Interested in a Network Patent Analysis patent landscape map on your own area of technology?

Client engagements to date include multiple studies in the likes of ICT, medical technology, engineering, genomics and more. Pricing starts from US$10k, which we think represents excellent value for a patent landscape map which both group and ranks patent at the same time. Further details on getting started are found here – please contact us for more information.

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