The most interesting ideas can sometimes seem too risky for large energy companies to invest in. Yet some have massive potential to change the way energy is produced, like the revolutionary idea of producing and cooling natural gas to liquid – all at sea. Boosted by early funding from the Shell GameChanger programme, the idea is becoming reality with the Prelude FLNG project.

Shell founded its GameChanger programme in 1996 to provide innovators with the financial and technical support and space they need to demonstrate the technical and commercial viability of their ideas. GameChanger helps them to prove their concept works, quickly and cost-efficiently.

We know unusual ideas can exist anywhere, so we seek out contributions from any innovator or creative community. From our long history innovating with others outside Shell and the industry, we also know there is rarely success without failure along the way.

GameChanger has worked with more than 1,700 innovators around the world, helping them turn more than 100 ideas into reality.

We are ready to take a chance on your idea. Are you ready?

Getting started

The journey starts when you submit your idea.

At Shell GameChanger we look at four main criteria when evaluating ideas:

  1. We check for novelty: is your idea fundamentally different and unproven?
  2. We look at the potential value: could your idea create substantial new value if it works?
  3. We ask “Why Shell?”: is your idea relevant to Shell and the energy future?
  4. We test your plan: can the concept be proven quickly and affordably?

We also consider how sustainable your idea is, checking it meets our rules on social responsibility, health, safety and the environment. Find out more about the GameChanger step-by-step process.

We will review your proposal and make a decision within just a few days. If it meets our criteria, we will contact you straight away.

Find out more about the GameChanger step-by-step process.

From idea to reality

One GameChanger project used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to improve understanding of the way fluids, like oil, move through porous rock. The idea was submitted by Daniel Pusiol, an expert in nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). He proposed adapting NMR techniques to measure commingled fluid flow (oil, gas and water) in a pipe.

Working with Daniel, Matthias Appel, Shell’s team leader for rock and fluid physics, found a way to apply the technology of medical MRI scanners in the energy industry. “Having the ability to make images of fluids in the rock is extremely powerful in understanding what’s going on when you are producing hydrocarbons,” he said.

GameChanger helped Daniel develop the concept into a prototype, the “flowmeter”, which is being trialled in the Netherlands. When oil, water and gas molecules travel through a pipe inside the flowmeter, they are exposed to a strong magnetic field. The flowmeter is designed to vary the magnetic field suddenly, causing the oil, water and gas molecules to all react differently. This allows their individual fluid compositions and flow rates to be measured.

Unusual inspiration

Sometimes ideas are inspired in unexpected ways, and sometimes they come from Shell’s own scientists. For example, a toy, rubber dinosaur that grew when placed in water proved an inspiration for Shell Senior Research Scientist Erik Cornelissen. He went on to invent a synthetic rubber seal that swells on contact with water, for use inside wells. Unlike the toy dinosaur, it can also withstand enormous heat and pressure underground. 

As an offshore oil field ages, more and more water is produced together with oil from its wells, and separating the oil and water becomes increasingly costly with time. Erik Cornelissen’s rubber seal swells up when it makes contact with water inside the well, helping to keep water inside while allowing oil to come to the surface. The rubber seal helps to lengthen a field’s productive life and is now used widely in the industry.

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Innovative collaborations

Read about some of the innovative technologies and solutions we develop with others inside and outside the energy sector.