"Given that easy oil is no longer available, we all need to focus on new challenges of unlocking alternative hydrocarbon resources and utilizing more unconventional petrochemical feedstock," explained Sven Royall, vice president Global Intermediates, Shell Chemicals, in a speech he presented to attendees at the 10th Handelsblatt annual conference of the chemicals and petrochemicals industry in Düsseldorf, Germany, last month.
The speech, “Rising to the energy challenge: the chemicals industry response to carbon and feedstock constraints,” noted that by 2050 our world will require double the energy we use today, but also will need to halve its greenhouse gas emissions to prevent catastrophic climate change.
Royall went on to state that renewable energy resources such as wind, solar, wave, hydrogen and biofuels will play an increasing role in the global energy mix. But forecasts suggest fossil fuels will still account for up to 70% of global energy consumption well beyond 2050.
"For the chemicals sector, which is both heavily reliant on oil and gas for feedstock and energy and, for base chemicals, a significant generator of carbon dioxide, our response to the energy challenge will determine the future shape of our industry," explained Royall.
"We will need to access and develop a wider range of feedstock and energy resources, from fossil fuels to renewables including bio-based feedstock, while responding to global competitive challenges and the development of regulatory regimes designed to enhance energy efficiency and cut greenhouse gas emissions."
Royall pointed out Shell's progress in the use of hydrowax and butane in ethylene production. He also talked about catalyst technology providing more efficient routes to products.
For example, catalysts developed by Shell in its ethylene oxide/glycols technology enable the company to convert up to 90% of ethylene into ethylene oxide. "That's a 10% improvement over the previous generation of catalysts, and it also saves hundreds of millions of dollars and lowers carbon emissions."
In addition to rising to the energy challenge, Shell also rises to the challenge of worker welfare.
Indeed, in April Shell donated $187,000 to the Lighthouse Club Singapore (a charity for the construction industry that helps victims of construction accidents) and $100,000 to the Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (H.O.M.E.).
"H.O.M.E. is grateful to Shell for the timely and generous donation to our cause for needy migrant workers. The present economy has seen increasing number of foreign workers out of work and being sent home debt-ridden and penniless. Shell has come to our rescue when our resources are extremely stretched as we respond to the needs of construction and marine workers with shelter housing, food and other expenses in their present predicament," said Bridget Lew, president of H.O.M.E.