Digital technologies have rapidly become critical enablers in the oil and gas industry. They increase the speed of operations across the hydrocarbon lifecycle, reduce costs and improve delivery to all business locations. This paper assesses the value contribution of digital technologies at Shell EP over the past three years. It focuses on the business impact of the global IT standardisation and simplification programme, and three strategically important technologies; Smart FieldsTM, Virtual Collaboration and Grid Computing.


Information technology has moved to the very heart of the EP business in a relatively short time. IT tools are now fundamental to the daily performance of our people around the world. In addition, every well, reservoir and production facility relies on some form of IT. While it is clear that digital technologies are already part of the mainstream of the oil and gas industry, it is vital to assess the business value that has been contributed from investment in these systems. An understanding of the financial and strategic value returned on this investment to date, will improve the industry's capability to make the most of the next phase of digital advances.

This paper reviews the impact of two key areas of digital technology value contribution to the Shell EP business in the past three years:

  1. Global IT simplification and standardisation programme.

  2. Three strategic value-add digital technology initiatives

    • Smart Fields

    • Virtual Collaboration

    • Grid Computing

1. Global IT Simplification and Standardisation

The introduction of a simplified and standardised IT environment in Shell EP has played an important role in reducing business complexity, removing costs, and providing world-class remote working capabilities. The programme included the following integrated activities:

Global IT team, strategy and plan.

The introduction of a global IT team, strategy and plan, has enabled IT services to be directly aligned with Shell EP's business needs, and also removed duplication. The continued delivery of IT services through local teams ensures that specific location requirements are incorporated. In addition, local services have been enhanced through access to more powerful and cost-effective worldwide IT resources.

Robust, high-speed global telecommunications network.

A global network upgrade and standardisation programme, and a 20-fold increase in bandwidth between key locations, has improved speed, reliability and security of core IT services.

Standardised digital operating environment.

Shell EP staff work on a single, standardised IT service which is available from any PC in any Shell or non-Shell location, at anytime with complete access to files and 24/7 helpdesk support. This standardised digital environment not only enhances the productivity and flexibility of individual staff members, but is also the bedrock of remote working for both technical and commercial teams.

IT infrastructure consolidation.

With a common digital operating environment in place, IT infrastructure is also being consolidated from a large number of local data centres to a few linked major hubs, which host standard applications and support services (see Figure 1).

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