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Innovation at Shell
We believe that human ingenuity and technology hold the key to deliver sustainable energy needed today and in the future. We have been a technology pioneer for over 100 years. Bright ideas from our people and partners have resulted in some groundbreaking innovations. These are not always immediately visible to the public: some are in wells underground, for example, and others are in oceans. But they all contribute to improving our industry and helping to meet our customers’ needs.
People and organisation
We have 45,000 technical and engineering staff worldwide. Our global network of technical centres located close to our main markets and our production sites drive forward the innovation needed to meet future energy challenges.
Around 10% of our technical staff conduct research and development at our technology centres in 11 countries. Their knowledge and creativity help us to meet the world’s growing need for energy in a socially and environmentally responsible way.
Our internationally recognised Chief Scientists help to enhance the expertise of our staff and act as ambassadors for Shell technology, collaborating with academics and other industry experts to lead the way in their area of expertise. They work with our Chief Technology Officer to develop and deliver technologies that support our current business and to identify emerging technologies that will help shape the future of energy.
Working with others
No single company can develop all the innovation needed to meet the world’s growing demand for energy, with less environmental impact. We work closely with industry partners and recognised experts outside our industry to spark new ideas, share knowledge and speed the development of new concepts.
In Houston, Texas, USA, in Amsterdam and Rijswijk in the Netherlands, and in Bangalore, India, our technical centres focus on innovation, developing new technologies and improving existing ones.
Eight other centres – in the UK, Canada, Germany, Norway, China, Oman, Qatar and Singapore – focus on product development, marketing support and providing specific technical assistance to regional operations.
Across our centres, teams of different disciplines integrate to accelerate technology planning and use. For instance, geologists, engineers and geophysicists can link up through 3D virtual-reality systems to work simultaneously on the best development plans for reservoirs around the world.
Shell is also a member of the consortium operating Technology Centre Mongstad, Norway, the world’s largest facility for testing carbon dioxide (CO2) capture technology.
Investing in the future
Our sizeable investment in research and development helps turn ideas into reality. Shell has been the largest investor in research and development among the major international oil firms for the last five years. In 2011 we spent $1.1 billion on the research and development of technologies that will be needed to produce more and cleaner energy, and more efficient fuels and products for our customers.
Shell’s GameChanger programme invites original thinkers to share their ideas for resolving energy challenges. If we think a concept has potential, we can provide financial support to prove its feasibility. Since 1996 GameChanger has invested more than $250 million in more than 2,000 ideas and helped turn 200 of them into successful projects. These include FLNG, a giant floating facility that cools natural gas to liquids at sea. Shell is moving ahead with the world’s first facility of this kind, which has the potential to revolutionise the way natural gas resources are developed.