Jump menu

Main content |  back to top

Reusing and recycling water

Our Pearl gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant in the Qatari desert is deliberately designed to avoid putting pressure on the country’s limited fresh water resources. Large amounts of water are produced during the GTL manufacturing process, which can then be recovered and reused, while avoiding water discharges from the plant. Pearl GTL’s industrial water processing plant is the biggest of its kind, making full use of every drop of this water. The plant can treat 280,000 barrels of water a day – equivalent to the needs of a town of 140,000 people.

Read the story ”Producing water in the desert


The OMEGA process uses 20% less steam and generates around 30% less waste water.

The mono-ethylene glycol (MEG) plant at our petrochemicals complex in Singapore uses Shell’s proprietary OMEGA technology to make MEG – a raw material used in products such as polyester and anti-freeze. The OMEGA process uses 20% less steam and generates around 30% less waste water compared to conventional processes.

Using alternatives to fresh water

In Durban, South Africa, our joint venture SAPREF refinery uses water recycled from households to replace almost two thirds of the refinery’s fresh water used for process cooling and to make steam. Reusing water in this way helps reduce pressure on drinking water supplies

On Pulau Bukom, a small island south of Singapore, a country with limited water supplies, we use recycled water and convert sea water for use as cooling water at our refinery. Using desalination technology in this way means relying less on water from mainland Singapore, which frees up resources for use in people’s homes. Read the story “Making freshwater on  a small island

In the Netherlands, the Schoonebeek asset, operated by Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij B.V. (NAM), receives processed sewage water from a special plant built at a nearby wastewater purification facility. The sewage water is treated to create very pure water (“Ultrapure”) which is used in the steam technologies to help extract oil from the Schoonebeek oil field.

Shared, local solutions

In September 2012, Shell and the City of Dawson Creek opened a waste water treatment plant that virtually eliminates the need to draw on fresh water for our natural gas operations in the area: our Groundbirch natural gas venture already recycles more than 85% of the water it produces. Most of the balance is now taken from the plant, which treats waste water to reach a standard that can be used by both industry and the community.

The city uses this treated water for its own needs, like cleaning roads or keeping public parks green. We pipe the treated water to our operations, reducing the need for tanker trucks, cutting down on noise and dust and making roads safer. Similar opportunities are being sought by our unconventionals business in other places in Canada.

Innovative water treatment

Petroleum Development Oman (PDO, Shell share 34%) operates in some locations where water is extremely scarce, yet it produces nearly nine barrels of water for every barrel of oil.  Reeds are now used to filter some of this water naturally. The wetlands provide habitat for fish and migratory birds.