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Shell in Hunt for New Technologies

Royal Dutch Shell plc said Tuesday it's ready to invest "several hundred million dollars" in promising technology companies to accelerate innovations that might add value to its operations.

Shell Technology Ventures (STV) plans to make research and development (R&D) investments in private companies over the next six to eight years.

"Ideas from outside the organization are critical to our open innovation approach to R&D," said Chief Technology Officer Gerald Schotman. "We want to enable the brightest and the best to develop their ideas, and benefit from Shell's expertise and global reach, so that we can get these technologies up and running in our projects as fast as we can."

In addition to promising technology companies, Shell may invest in technology spin-outs and externally managed venture capital funds.

Shell last year spent about $1.3 billion a year on R&D. About 70% of the new proposed funds is to target enhanced hydrocarbon extraction and refining, while the remaining funds would be committed to new energy forms. Areas of particular interest include:

Shell also plans to delve into various aspects of "big data" information technology; oil and gas well drilling and completion; subsurface sensing; production in challenging environments; operational efficiency; and future energy technologies.

Partners could be granted access to Shell's technical experts, its global research capability and its customer, supplier and contractor base. Shell said it also may look to enable field trials where appropriate and serve as a launching customer for these new technologies.

"We are looking to develop long-term mutually, beneficial partnerships with emerging technology companies, venture capital firms and corporate venturing organizations," said Schotman.

He pointed to an example of Shell's investment in GlassPoint Solar Inc. Its pilot plant in the Middle East taps heat from the sun to generate steam for enhanced oil recovery. Petroleum Development Oman contracted GlassPoint to build the plant, which is currently being tested.

The new investment fund would operate alongside STV Fund 1, which was set up in 2007 also to commercialize new technologies across the energy sector. That $1 billion fund, also backed by Coller Capital and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, is managed externally by Kenda Capital.

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