Global demand for energy and the technical challenges facing the oil and gas exploration and production industry means business as usual is no longer an option, Shell's chief technology officer says.
Gerald Schotman said the industry needs to innovate the way it innovates and could look towards the likes of NASA to learn about technology innovation, safety, and collaboration.
Schotman, based at Shell's The Hague headquarters, was speaking at the SPE Intelligent Energy conference and exhibition scene setter in Utrecht, Netherlands, this morning. "I see innovation very much as a contact sport. It happens when the best players get together," he said.
Schotman cited Shell's Game Changer program, running since 1996, its many collaborations with universities, its venture capital funding program, and crowd sourcing, alongside global innovation hubs.
He said industry needed to draw on technology in the medical, aerospace, and defense sectors, without the "not invented here" attitude.
"Technology innovation means getting the best in class from anywhere," Schotman says. "What we do know for certain is business as usual is no longer an option. The industry needs to innovate the way it innovates."
Schotman cited NASA's Apollo space program, and the challenges it had to overcome, drawing on hundreds of scientists and thousands of global institutions.
He also said industry could learn from the aerospace sector in automation, in order to remove people from dangerous work places, but also in materials, and computing power, recognising patterns.
Shell is already learning from NASA, he said. Technology from the organization has been adopted to help Shell investigate the contents of concrete cells on its Brent field structures in the UK North Sea, as it moves towards decommissioning.