Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence

Memorandum 48

Submission from Shell Plc


  I am writing in response to your recent request for information about Shell's activities and investments in technologies within the marine environment.

  Shell shares the UK Government's vision of "clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas", outlined in the recent Marine Bill White Paper. A healthy marine environment based on these principles matters to us for a number of core reasons. We have several businesses operating in the UK marine environment:

    —    Our Exploration and Production (EP) business is engaged in the upstream activities of acquiring, exploring, developing and producing oil and gas. Today we have ventures in more than 36 countries, with a significant presence in the North Sea, where we operate some 35 offshore production and sub-sea installations.

    —    Shell WindEnergy (SWE) focuses on the development and operation of utility-scale wind farms that add significant power, flexibility and capacity to the grid. It is developing three major offshore wind farm projects in Europe—Egmond Aan Zee in The Netherlands and two in the UK: London Array in the outer Thames Estuary and Cirrus Shell Flat Array in the Irish Sea.

    —    Shell International Trading and Shipping Company (STASCO) has more than 100 years of shipping experience transporting crude oil, refined products, liquefied natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas by sea and is responsible for managing and/or manning Shell's large portfolio of liquefied natural gas carriers and tankers.

  Shell has been at the forefront of innovation for over 100 years. The launch of the Murex, the world's first seagoing tanker, revolutionized oil product transport in 1892 and helped to establish Shell as the major force in the industry.

  Today, investing in technology continues to be central to our business strategy. For example, Shell has implemented technologies in the North and Norwegian Seas that were unheard of a few years ago.

  Listed below are details of some of the most significant technologies being applied across Europe:

(i)  Maximising Recovery

  Tubular technology is used in the North Sea where there are many advantages. It can be applied both to upgrade the performance of existing wells and to promote the development of new wells. It reduces costs and, in some cases, increases productivity by up to 70%. Depressurisation—for example, the Brent redevelopment project was the largest offshore field depressurisation ever taken, helping to prolong the life of the Brent Field.

  Horizontal drilling helps to reduce costs and improve recovery. The technology was swiftly implemented and has been a huge success in the North Sea.

  Monotower platforms—the Monotowers Cutter and K17 deliver gas from separate sectors of the Southern North Sea. Both are ultra-minimal Monotowers, a new low cost low maintenance design, powered exclusively by renewable energy sources and with reduced CO2 emissions. We believe this innovation was a world first. There are plans to install four new platforms during 2007.

(ii)  Bringing Gas to Market

  Ormen Lange—a massive subsea development in deep, harsh, northern seas, more than 600 hundred miles from its customers. Its successful development will require the application of a wide range of advanced technology. The wells that Shell is now drilling are the largest deepwater gas wells ever installed.

  Goldeneye platform—developed to be unmanned, it serves as a safe and cost effective platform in challenging marine conditions.

(iii)  Safety and planning

  METNET 3G Real-Time Network—this system provides continuous measurement of wind, wave and meteorological data at 25 offshore installations. This is the leading (and largest) oil and gas industry metocean network in the UK and is used for safety and planning of a wide range of Shell operations.

  (The data also has many uses in the external organisations including improving weather forecast accuracy, coastal flood defences, flight planning/routing etc.

  In-house Load Statistics Module (LSM)—a system developed by Shell to derive the joint probability of extreme events. It enables quantification of winds and currents associated with a 100 year wave and factors the combination of wave, tide and surge to derive the 10,000 year extreme water level used in setting deck elevations.

(iv)  Addressing the CO2 challenge

  Carbon capture and storage—carbon dioxide has long been injected into the ground to assist in enhancing oil recovery from existing reservoirs. Now Shell is working to develop cost-effective technologies to capture man-made carbon emissions, (for example from power plants and refineries) and store them safely underground.

  I hope this provides you with a useful overview of our marine activities and some of the key technologies we have been helping to develop.

July 2007

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