Shell team working together using technical expertise to gain value at refinery.

A Commitment to Customer Excellence Through Technical Expertise

By Adrienne Van Kooperen on Feb 18, 2020

As a senior technical service engineer, I spend a large part of my time supporting customers in identifying ways to optimize their individual unit operating strategies. I routinely offer customers choices they might have for effectively maximising performance within their specific feed and product property constraints.

This collaborative relationship allows me to assist my customers they may properly plan for future cycles while taking into account industry market trends and conditions in order to deliver the highest value. I take great pride in working with customers as they seek to make every unit perform at maximum profitability and in winning new business by demonstrating superior technical expertise.

There is no “average” workday for me. I find constant motivation from the evolving challenges that my customers, internal stakeholders, and the industry faces with the emergence of new licensed technologies and their associated challenges. I am fascinated by the opportunity for learning something new every day.

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Adaptability is Key to Meet the Fluctuating Demands of the Energy Industry

Beyond the technical leadership provided by my colleagues, the environment at Shell Catalysts & Technologies offers true comradery with a focus on personal development and team efforts to drive the business. I consider my colleagues as friends and family. By leveraging the camaraderie and resources of the larger Shell team, I am able to apply my technical expertise for customers in a way that is adaptable to competitive and fluctuating market circumstances.

For example, beginning in 2018, our business has been operating in an unparalleled catalyst supply-demand crunch. The energy industry, attempting to respond to the 2020 IMO regulatory changes, brought about immediate and unprecedented demand for our heavy oil treating catalysts, which pulled our catalyst supply inventory to record low levels. This limited the ability of Shell Catalysts & Technologies to meet the increased demand.

During this supply constraint, I learned that we experienced challenges in our efforts to supply a complete catalyst order for one of our customer’s preeminent units. Over several years, I had developed strong relationships with the local management and engineering staff at this site. Having worked closely with them through multiple cycles where we offered choices they could employ to stretch this asset, I knew that they relied heavily on our technical support beyond routine performance monitoring.

In an effort to meet their needs for the upcoming cycle, I worked with Shell Catalysts & Technology’s Customer Facing Organisation Senior Account Executive to identify an alternate supply of regenerated and rejuvenated pretreat catalyst. A thorough analysis of the current unit performance confirmed that they could meet the intended objectives for the next cycle by utilizing this alternate pretreat load with the same cracking catalyst.

Although it was not the ideal result, we worked with the site to provide an alternative that maintained our technical service support. We delivered a shorter cycle with all key deliverables met. We also facilitated a schedule for the subsequent changeout that opened up the possibility of executing several unit upgrades on the table.

The commitment to identify out-of-the-box solutions that maintained our high-performance standards ultimately strengthened our working relationship with this key customer. We could not have achieved this win without the technical expertise of the Shell group and the “can do” mentality of the entire commercial, technical, and manufacturing team. The strong relationship built on earned trust with this site helped us to successfully adapt through market fluctuations to meet the customer’s needs despite the supply-constrained environment. 

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A Long-Term Goal of Image Transformation

I anticipate that CO2 regulations and pending renewable processing requirements will impact all major manufacturing and technology areas across the globe. The increasing momentum of the drive towards renewable energies and sustainable fuels -- specifically the challenges around plastics -- opens an entirely new area for development in which Shell Catalysts & Technologies is an active participant.

This creates a huge opportunity for us to counter the negative image commonly associated with the oil and gas industry, even though the majority of consumer products used in daily life, from clothing to auto interiors, are derived from this very industry.

Amid population growth coupled with a demand for higher living standards, there is a growing demand across society for newer, cleaner energy sources in the development of sustainable goods and products for everyday human consumption. This includes minimizing CO2 and other Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.

We understand that there will continue to be a significant demand for energy and products produced from refined fossil fuels for many years to come. Shell will remain a leader in both areas while actively planning for a low-carbon future.

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Shell Catalysts & Technologies is very excited to work with our customers through this transformational period, helping customers to build a plan and comply with current, pending legislation by designing and delivering technology-based solutions.

While my short-term goals remain focused on providing technical service to customers, my long-term goals include advancing my expertise in catalyst technologies to reach larger areas of the business, and to develop differentiating products for Shell Catalysts & Technologies based on the changing needs of the marketplace.

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