Open Innovation for Extreme Recovery from Oil Reservoirs


Average recovery rates from oil reservoirs are of the order of 35% – the majority of the discovered oil stays in the ground. Surprising? The fact is that the remaining oil is so difficult to extract that it's just not worth it. Shell GameChanger wanted to disrupt this paradigm. It partnered Innovia to explore wholly new ways to get the oil out of the ground as a foundation for a larger open innovation initiative.


Innovia's role was to map the large space of possibilities and reduce it to a small number of opportunities, delivered as a list of external contacts. Opportunities included mechanisms which delivered mechanical energy to the reservoir, new downhole chemistries, controlling wettability and adhesion, through to breakthrough strategies that would fundamentally change the extraction process.


Shell is now exploring open innovation leads in a range of technologies, including safe explosives, swellable gels, viscoelastic hydrocarbons, polymer self-assembly, shape memory polymers, and nanoclusters for neutral wettability.