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Natural gas

We are finding ways to open up new resources of natural gas, the cleanest-burning fossil fuel.

High volumes of natural gas are trapped tightly in rock pores, as little as 100 times less the width of a human hair. Advanced technology is helping us to unlock the gas responsibly and boost energy security.

We have spent more than 35 years developing technology to convert gas into liquid products used for heating fuel, transport fuel and lubricants. In Qatar we built and now operate Pearl GTL, the world’s largest plant for turning natural gas into liquid products.

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Many large natural gas fields are far from customers. Cooling gas to liquid at -162°C (-260°F) allows us to shrink its volume for easier shipment to customers. Shell is moving ahead to build the world’s first giant floating facility to turn gas to liquid at sea, Prelude FLNG.

Deep water

Hundreds of metres below the ocean’s surface, extreme pressure and freezing temperatures make gas and oil production a tough challenge. We have pushed the boundaries of what is technically possible and safely achievable to unlock these resources.

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We are involved in eight wind projects in North America and two in Europe. Shell’s only offshore wind project, Egmond aan Zee, has 36 turbines. We used our experience with oil and gas platforms to design it to withstand North Sea conditions.

Unlocking energy with advanced technologies

Enhanced oil recovery: When an oil field reaches the end of its normal productive life, up to two-thirds of its oil is left in the ground. The remaining oil is too expensive to produce by conventional means. But enhanced oil recovery techniques can bring more oil to the surface at an economic price.

These techniques use heat, solvent gas or other chemical agents to alter the flow properties of the oil, making it easier to produce. Boosting production in this way could unlock an additional 300 billion barrels of oil, according to the International Energy Agency.

Seeing under the surface: We use advanced seismic technology to make a picture of underground oil and gas reservoirs. Seismic testing involves creating small explosions or vibrations at the surface to generate seismic waves – essentially sound waves – that reflect off underground rock layers. Computers then transform recordings of these echoes into high-resolution three-dimensional images of reservoirs.

Drilling: New technologies have extended the length of wells to more than 10 kilometres (over six miles) – not all of which is straight down. We are now able to drill wells that snake horizontally through the ground, from one pocket of oil to another.

Smart Fields®: We are also optimising our oil production with advanced information technology systems called Smart Fields®. This technology integrates digital information from sensors in wells and on surface equipment with remotely controlled valves and various computer applications.

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