While society is increasingly switching to renewable energy sources, we cannot do without fossil fuels yet. It allows aircrafts to fly, cars to drive and boats to travel. In addition, oil and/or gas are the raw materials for numerous products, such as asphalt, mattresses, certain medicines and parts of laptops and telephones. Even the rotor blades of wind turbines often contain oil as raw material. However, easily accessible and extractable fossil reserves are becoming scarce. One of Shell's approaches is to develop challenging reserves responsibly.
An example is the so-called “tight gas”. Large volumes of natural gas are trapped in rock pores that are 100 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Advanced technology helps to unlock this gas in a responsible manner and thus contribute to the energy supply. Another example. Some reservoirs are located in difficult-to-reach places, such as at great ocean depths. The seabed can reach a depth of up to 2,900 metres and the reservoirs could then be another 3000 metres deeper. These reserves are a challenge, partly because of the extremely high pressure present in the reservoir and on the seabed and the large difference in temperature between the reservoir and the pipelines on the seabed.
Shell is also active in making the best use of existing reserves. For example, if an oil field approaches the end of its normal productive life, two-thirds of the oil sometimes remains in the subsurface. It is too expensive to extract the remaining oil using conventional techniques. Improved oil extraction technologies allow more oil to be brought to the surface at an affordable price. These techniques use heat, gaseous compounds or fluids to improve the oil’s flow properties. This makes production simpler without further negative impact to the subsurface.
At Shell in ETCA, a department concentrates on research supporting oil and gas extraction. The group researches the quality and characteristics of various types of oils, natural gas and porous rock and studies the flow processes of gas and liquids that take place in the deep subsurface. How do water, soap or gas that are injected into the rock to flush the oil and gas out of the rock react? Shell manages libraries of oil samples and rocks from around the world for research purposes. This also includes research to responsibly phase out the oil and gas production and to be able to dismantle existing installations or modify them for other technology.
The laboratories for this research are designed in such a way that they can also support projects for the energy transition, such as geothermal heat, CO2 storage and the use and storage of hydrogen.
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The role technology plays
Our researchers, scientists and engineers research, develop and deploy technologies that help Shell to provide more and cleaner energy in a changing energy system.
Wij gebruiken een scala aan technologieën om meer olie en gas te winnen uit bestaande velden en om nieuwe reserves aan te wijzen.
Ver onder het oppervlak van de oceaan, gebruiken wij geavanceerde technologieën om meer energie te vinden en deze veilig te produceren.