Energy Gas Geoscience Innovation Oil Research and development Technology

Turning a frog idea into an innovation prince

Nicholas Newman

Amsterdam City Centre
Amsterdam City Centre

On Tuesday (16 February 2016) at Shell’s Technology Centre in Amsterdam, an all-day event took place that included debates and a tour of some of the innovation achievements that have been made by Shell, in its adoption of its ‘Game Changer’ programme to innovation, introduced at Shell by Tim Warren, Director of Research and Technical Services in Shell’s largest division, Exploration and Production (E&P) Division, in 1996.

STCA Online Influencer Tour, Netherlands, 2016
STCA Online Influencer Tour, Netherlands, 2016

As Marian Marino Shell’s Head of Game Changing has found, “Finding the innovation prince is, as every business dragon knows is a very challenging task.” However, adopting a Game Changer approach, it would appear has enabled Shell to improve its chances of finding and turning a frog idea into an innovation prince to just one in two hundred. What is clear is not every concept that arrives at Shell’s door in Amsterdam, whether from inside or outside the organisation will transform itself, once thoroughly examined from a frog into a prince. However, luckily for Shell, a series of unlikely frog concepts have turned into princes, such as: the unexpected black swan innovation of floating liquid natural gas ships, carbon capture and storage, gas in transport, innovations in reservoir management, advances in geoscience and adoption of bacteria as a method to scrub raw gas.

Shell’s Innovation Achievement

Amongst Shell’s leading innovators at the event were:

  1. Marian Marino Shell’s Head of Game Changing talked about how the company’s innovation programmes had achieved such unexpected black swan innovation development of floating liquid natural gas ships. At present, Shell is fitting out the first of such FLNG ships, known as Prelude  in South Korea, in preparation for its journey to the gas fields off the North Australian coast.
  2. Axel Makurat Team Lead Rocks and Fluids and John Coenen Senior Reservoir Engineer demonstrated in the lab the uses of Vertical CT Scanner to examine the behaviours of rocks and fluids.
  3. STCA Online Influencer Tour, Netherlands, 2016
    Hendrik Dathe and Nicholas Newman with others examining the merits of different catalysts designs at Shell’s Technology Centre Amsterdam

    Hendrik Dathe Research Manager, Refinery Catalysts demonstrated the advances made in catalyst technologies.

  4. Jens Mueller-Belau General Manager Innovation, Fuels Technology debated the future of natural gas as a fuel in transport.
  5. Lina El Hares Subsurface Technology Deployment Project Manager talked about the advances  that Shell had made innovation in reservoir management. In fact, Lina El Hares mentioned that she’d never been asked if Shell had plans to mine on the moon and got a real kick out of the question!
  6. Jan van Schijndel provided an overview about gas conversion innovation and the challenges of realising it on a commercial scale.
  7. Marja Zonnevylle General Manager Gas Processing EMEAR demonstrated some of the processes involved in the adoption of bacteria as a method to scrub raw gas.
  8. STCA Online Influencer Tour, Netherlands, 2016
    Wilfried Maas with Nicholas Newman discussing the finer points of CCS at Shell’s Technology Centre Amsterdam

    Wilfried Maas, GM Carbon Capture and Storage Technology introduced participants into Shell’s contribution to CCS technology.

  9. Martijn van Hardeveld General Manager GTL Conversion guided us round the onsite gas to liquids plant.

Amongst the participants at this event were some of Europe’s leading commentators including:

What was clear in the advances examined, was that this century-old company and its partners is making still great strides in the innovation game!

STCA Online Influencer Tour, Netherlands, 2016
Being shown round the inside of a gas to liquids pilot plant at Shell’s Technology centre Amsterdam

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