The availability of fresh water is a growing challenge in some parts of the world. It is important that society – along with Shell and others in the oil and gas industry - protects and preserves this valuable resource and manages its use in a responsible and sustainable way.

Managing water more effectively

We take steps to manage our use of water and apply new approaches and technologies to reduce our use of fresh water. We comply with water regulations wherever we operate and also set our own mandatory water standards, which match best practice for our industry. 

We tailor our use of fresh water to local conditions, as water constraints tend to affect people at the local or regional level. In some cases, we use alternatives to fresh water in our operations; these include recycled water, processed sewage water and desalinated water. For example, at our gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant in the Qatari desert, we clean and reuse industrial process water. This means that we avoid using the country’s scarce natural water resources.

Elsewhere, our operations use alternatives to fresh water. On Pulau Bukom, a small island south of Singapore - a country with limited water supplies - we use recycled water and converted sea water for steam generation at our refinery and we reuse our process water. This means we rely less on water from mainland Singapore, which frees up resources for use by local residents. 

Using technology to improve efficiency

Technology helps us to improve water efficiency within our own operations. Our technology centre in Bangalore, India, connects Shell’s water experts globally to share experiences. It is also home to our most advanced water research laboratories, and works in collaboration with non-governmental organisations, top universities and global technology companies.

For example, we are working with Wetsus, one of the top water research organisations in the Netherlands, on desalination using ultra-fine porous membranes to separate salt from seawater. This is a key technology in the treatment of water for industrial and daily use.

Adapting to climate change and creating green infrastructure

Sky and clouds reflecting on water

Smart ways to save water

Global resources of fresh water are coming under greater pressure as the world’s population grows and demand for food and energy increases.

Improving water use through research
Reed beds in Oman

A natural filter for water

In the Omani desert, reed beds are being used to naturally clean water produced as oil extracted, before it evaporates.

Find out more about Nimr reed beds

MORE IN Sustainability

Air quality

We take steps to reduce airborne pollutants from our operations and help customers reduce their impact on air quality by using our products.


Our projects can affect local natural habitats and communities that depend on them. Read about our work on biodiversity around the world.

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