Human Resources and Technology in Shell Oil Company

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The Shell Company is one of the leading producers of oil, gas and petrochemicals in North America. The company is well-known for its industry modernization. Though its business remains principally inside the United States, still it operates outside the country autonomously as well as joint ventures with auxiliary companies of its parent unit.

Human Resources

At present the company has its operations in 110 countries and has a work force of about 104,000 people. The company has its core values as honesty, integrity and respect and believes that their job is to provide the increase demand for energy world wide in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. The company also believes that they provide resources for people to put ideas into actions and give them ample opportunities to advance in career with great benefits and rewards for good jobs. This would give them the quality of life that every individual dreams of. The Human Resources that the company boasts of are creative, innovative and ambitious professionals.

The personnel are the core of implementation of strategy of the company along with getting the employees' contributions for planning and direction of the work that they do. There are channels through which the employees can have their issues communicated to the respective authorities. There are staff councils and recognized trade unions which help in this task. Thus, there is a mechanism in place to communicate the views of the workers to the people up in the hierarchical chain.

The employees can also communicate any breach of code of conduct in processes or practices of the company to the managers or Human Resources staff and the individual's identity is kept confidential. This is a positive aspect of the company as it protects whistleblowers and keeps the organization clean and truthful.

The personnel are given regular training which enables them to innovate new ideas and develop existing ones. There are some Quality Assurance Programs which includes delivery of standards and customized training programs. It also includes assessment and competence planning including the Lean/ Six Sigma and Process Improvement training. This program has a significant influence in Value Creation for Shell. The employees are given professional training as well as soft skills such as leadership programs. The result is that the employees become more innovative and acquire the potential to work in foreign projects/ international environment which makes them more competitive.

The company has a policy of rewarding according to work done i.e. performance related pay along with bonus, perks etc. The employees have pension plan with health insurance coverage. The employees get annual breaks and sabbaticals which encourages the employees to come back and work with more vigor. The employees are also given motivation to take part in community programs, social responsibility projects and employee interest groups etc. The company takes care of the needs of its employees and employee benefits figure high in the company's priority. The employees' satisfaction is therefore high and they remain committed to the company.

In 1990's the revenues of the slowly took a downward trend. In 1993, the total workforce of the company was cut down to 22,212 from 29,437 as part of the company's plan to manage the downfall. Thus it is evident that the company is not averse to the idea of downsizing and to lay-off its employees. This is not a positive sign for workers and for effective Human Resource management.

Technology

There are technical centers in Shell which focus on the product development, marketing support and specific technical assistance to regional operations. The centers further work for the successful operations of business like oil conversion etc. by amalgamating and working efficiently.

When it comes to R&D, the company is the largest investor among all major oil firms. In the year 2009, over $1.9billion was spent for R&D to produce cleaner and energy efficient fuels. The company has also been constantly evolving its operations. These were made more efficient by the Smart Field implementations that optimized production from oil and gas fields and by the catalysts it manufactured. New exploration prospects were identified by the company with novel seismic survey technologies. It also opened new markets by its high-mileage Shell FuelSave gasoline formulation, which was launched in various countries. Thus, the company is not one to rest on its oars. It tries to constantly evolve and maintain its position as a leader in the industry by use of technology.

In 1990s, the engineers in Shell were designing and constructing an Auger Platform which was worth $1.2billion, in the deep waters of Gulf of Mexico. In the year 1994, the output of this project was 55000 barrels of oil a day, which made Shell the pioneer in Deep Sea Drilling. This success in the Gulf of Mexico gave a boost to its revenues in the mid1990's. By effectively using technology, Shell has been able to establish itself as a leader in Deep Sea Drilling.

The world is evolving towards a low-carbon energy system in the decades ahead. Shell's technology enables them to find and produce crude oil and natural gas in hard-to-reach places, from the deep ocean to the frozen arctic. Therefore, the company is investing in technology to be able to extract more fossil fuels.

Scientists at Shell are also developing technology to produce transport fuels from unusual sources, such as agricultural waste. The research initiatives of the company have created entirely new technologies, such as those needed for alternative fuels or carbon capture and sequestration, which may become part of the world's energy system in the longer term. In 2009, the scientists and engineers were developing a full-scale cellulose-to-ethanol plant for next-generation biofuels. The company thus realizes that the future of energy is in biofuels and alternate fuel creation techniques, and is applying concerted efforts in this direction.

The company is already applying technology to capitalize on its supplies of natural gas, the cleanest-burning fossil fuel. By utilizing new production techniques, Shell is able to extract natural gas out of impermeable rock. The company has developed the technology to extract gas in far-flung locations and transport it to markets in sea-going tankers. They are also turning natural gas into high-performance lubricants and liquid transport fuels. Thus by harnessing technology to its advantage, the company aims that by 2012 more than half of its production will be natural gas. By application of technology, the company is increasingly moving towards a cheaper and cleaner source of energy i.e. natural gas.

Shell excels at applying technology to complex projects on a massive scale. The offshore fields that they recently brought on-stream in Brazil and Russia bear testimony to that. In 2009, the scientists and engineers were developing floating LNG plant for the offshore fields. They are following a similar project-engineering approach in several demonstration projects to capture CO2 and store it safely underground. Thus, the company is at ease in application of advanced technology in massive projects which are future proof.

The company is also investing considerable money and effort on devising means to extract more value out of every unit of energy it uses in its operations. Its R&D program adapts and applies technologies that reduce the energy requirements, environmental impacts and running costs of its current operations. The company is introducing new products and services that help its customers to become more efficient energy-users themselves. Thus the technology and development in the company is not limited to energy extraction techniques but also towards energy utilization.

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