This paper compares the petroleum industry with other industries from the technology development aspect. The comparison is based on studying financial as well as Research and Development (R&D) investment data for the Fortune 500 companies.

Our industry has been coping with increased hydrocarbon demands by responding to increased challenges to find and produce more hydrocarbons through developing new technologies. Some of the historical key technologies in the petroleum industry are reviewed. The current challenges requiring new and novel technological developments in our industry are also highlighted.

We followed a systematic analytical approach to investigate and compare technology development in the petroleum industry with other industries through investigation of public company data for the Fortune 500 companies in addition to major petroleum and major service companies. The investigation reveals an interesting correlation between the profitability of a company and its R&D investment. Also, and within the same industry, companies which invest more in R&D seems to enjoy superior profits over their competitors. Although the oil industry invests significant amounts of money in technology development, it spends less than other industries in both R&D spend as percentage of revenue and the actual amount of money spend.

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