Shell benefits from £60bn IT R&D funds, says CIO

Shell has access to a £63 billion ($100 billion) research and development pool for new technologies through its large IT supplier network, the oil giant’s CIO said yesterday at Gartner Symposium in Barcelona.

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Shell has access to a £63 billion ($100 billion) research and development pool for new technologies through its large IT supplier network, the oil giant’s CIO said yesterday at Gartner Symposium in Barcelona.

While oil is increasingly difficult to source, “energy demand will double by mid century”, Amy Suhl, Shell’s project and technology CIO, said.

“IT will be an important enabler to help us reach those future energy demands.”

To do this, Shell is looking for the “biggest and brightest IT companies” to work with. Often this includes putting competitors together to get the best results.

Suhl said: “We have $40 billion for IT providers’ research and development projects - that is our major suppliers. With all of our IT suppliers it is in excess of $100 billion.”

Shell already benefiting from the IoT

“The internet of things (IoT) is another key enabler for us and we are getting value from it today,” Suhl told the conference.

Shell’s bespoke well software, the WellVantage system, sends real-time information from the drilling site to help automate the extraction process. Using video streaming on mobile devices, field workers can communicate with drilling experts remotely to monitor for safety and give advice.

Sulh said: “We can have drilling experts in Houston overseeing drilling experts in the North Sea, or one driller overseeing multiple rigs in different locations.”

Automating with connected equipment

“Often the cheapest and most efficient unit is that incremental amount you can get by running your processes optimally. We have installed sensors across to marry real-time data with predicted performance.”

The sensors are deployed across Shell’s global sites including its refineries. If the data shows that processes have performed below what was forecast, Shell can quickly make fixes to ensure it runs as effectively as possible.

“It helps us plan better and reduce the length of time in a turnaround,” Suhl said.

‘Digitising the way we work’

Shell uses its Accenture-supported applications to save time, shorten cycle time, save money and improve safety, Suhl said. On the customer-facing side, the company sees 10,000 interactions a day. Shell is now beginning to harness that big data.

“We have invested technology and business changes to offer real-time offers to our customers to influence their buying decisions at the point of purchase,” Suhl said.

The UK’s two million customers as part of its loyalty point scheme, ‘Driver’s club’, was effectively pushing “targeted benefits” to consumers, she added.

Even bigger data

On the oil production side of the company, Shell said it is now able to drill all year around and twice the depth thanks to accurate data from high-powered computers (HPCs).

The company takes a scan, like an MRI, of the Earth, and visualises it to spot where hydrocarbons are located.

“Today we hit a spot two metres-by-two-metres. That’s how accurate we have to be today. If drilling a well is that tough and expensive - the seismic data is also a big deal and expense.

“It costs tens of millions of dollars for a scan, which is tens of terabytes of data. Technology is moving so quickly that a single seismic survey will be petabytes of data.”

 

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