Overcoming technology challenges
Innovation and technology are vital to providing a wider, more sustainable mix of energy resources for the world’s growing population. Thousands of Shell scientists, researchers and engineers around the globe are working to develop tomorrow’s ground-breaking solutions, collaborating with experts and specialists beyond our industry.
An animated look at innovation
Shell has been a technology pioneer for more than a century. Today we are one of the largest investors in research and development (R&D) among international oil and gas companies, spending more than $1 billion each year to turn ideas into commercially viable technologies.
Scientists and researchers at our R&D facilities around the world work across time zones to develop ground-breaking innovations. These range from fuels and lubricants that help customers use less energy to the world’s largest floating production facility to unlock and liquefy natural gas at sea, Prelude FLNG.
We work with governments, world-class academics and industry specialists, and we share ideas and expertise with partners inside and beyond the energy sector to drive innovation forward. Open innovation can help speed up and deliver more cost-effectively developments in areas such as natural gas, biofuels, solar power, water treatment, CO2 management and energy efficiency.
We also develop innovative ways to make our operations more efficient and help manage water consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
Finding more energy
The era of easy-to-find oil and gas is coming to an end. We are developing new technologies to detect reservoirs that were once invisible, for example at depths of more than 3,000 metres, or hidden under thick layers of salt deep below the seabed.
Unlocking more energy
Once we decide to invest in an oil field our task is to drill the wells and produce the energy as safely and efficiently as possible, with minimum impact on the environment. To achieve these goals we continually develop new technologies and refine our safety processes, applying the same global standards to all our well designs and operating procedures.
Our innovations include technology to allow more oil and gas to flow from deeper wells, letting us tap otherwise uneconomical resources; smaller, leaner drillships that drill faster and use less fuel than comparable vessels; smart oil and gas fields equipped with sensors to monitor production in real-time; and mobile drilling rigs that drill faster and more efficiently on land than conventional rigs.
To find these resources we collect and process vast amounts of data from sensors to produce an accurate geological map of the site we are investigating. We then turn the data into images that can be analysed and interpreted quickly and efficiently. This ability to visualise and interpret lies behind our biggest successes in oil and gas exploration.
Making the most of resources
When an oil field comes on stream, it has enough pressure inside to push the oil up through the wells naturally. But over time the pressure in the field drops and the flow of oil slows. We have developed enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques to help us extract an additional 5-30% of the oil in place, increasing the overall recovery level from the field to 50-70% or even higher.