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Boosting oil recovery

Steam injection makes the oil more fluid

Steam injection makes the oil more fluid

When an oil field reaches the end of its normal life, up to two-thirds of its oil is left in the ground because it is too difficult or too expensive to get out. Its estimated that by recovering just 1% extra throughout the world would equate to an additional 20-30 billion barrels of oil. Enhanced oil recovery techniques are already helping bring more oil to the surface.

New drilling technologies and techniques have extended the length wells can reach – from just a few metres to more than 10 kilometres. To get oil from small pockets we have developed snake wells, which are drilled horizontally and can turn corners to snake from one pocket of oil to another. Among our other innovative technologies are swellable elastomers, synthetic rubber seals that can help stop water seeping into the well and mixing with the oil, and expandable tubulars, special metal casings used in the construction of longer wells.

To manage our operations more effectively, our Smart Fields® technologies integrate digital information systems with the latest drilling, seismic and reservoir monitoring techniques.

Unconventional resources

With easy-to-access oil no longer able to keep up with demand, resources once considered too costly or difficult to extract must be developed. Advances in technology make this possible: like the new froth treatment technology used in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project to develop Canada’s oil sands.

New frontiers

Anchor handling in the North Sea. (Photo by Duncan Cursiter, Shell Marine Contracts Holder UK)

Anchor handling in the North Sea. (Photo by Duncan Cursiter, Shell Marine Contracts Holder UK)

The search for new resources to meet the world’s growing demand for energy can mean entering harsh and challenging environments. Successful exploration of these areas and extraction of resources relies on technology. In deep water the pressure and near-freezing temperatures require thousands of technologies, from large, complex production systems to smart chemical treatments that help the oil and gas flow.

An estimated 20-25% of the world’s remaining oil and gas is believed to lie under the Arctic. But this natural environment requires sensitivity and technology to ensure that accessing the resources does not upset the balance of nature. Here one of Shell’s specially adapted technologies includes a drillship, the Bully Rig, which is smaller and lighter to be more energy efficient and less polluting.

Liquefied natural gas

Demand for natural gas – the cleanest burning fossil fuel – continues to grow. But with many large gas fields located far from where it is needed, making sure vast resources of natural gas are not left behind in the ground means coming up with ways to safely transport them in a cost effective way.

We cool natural gas to -162°C (260°F), turning it into a clear, colourless, non-toxic liquid that is 600 times smaller in volume than in its gaseous state. This makes it much easier to transport. Then, once at its destination, the LNG is returned to a gaseous state at a re-gasification plant before it is delivered to customer through pipelines.

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