Shell Lays Keel for World's First Floating LNG Project
What Shell calls the Prelude could be largest offshore floating facility ever built, displacing six times as much as the largest aircraft carrier
In a press release dated May 8, Shell Oil announced laying the keel for the Prelude, destined to be the world’s first floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) project. It also may very well be the largest floating facility to date. With the keel laid, the hull will be assembled in dry dock, before the turret and the topsides are fitted at Samsung Heavy Industries’ Geoje shipyard in South Korea.
The Prelude FLNG will allow Shell to produce natural gas at sea, liquefy it and transfer it directly to ships that will transport it to customers, according to the company. It is intended to open up new opportunities for countries looking to develop their gas resources and bring more natural gas to market.
Prelude is designed to displace 600,000 tons—six times as much water as the largest aircraft carrier. It will be moored and hooked up to undersea infrastructure around 475 km northeast of Broome, Western Australia. Despite its huge dimensions, the facility is only one-quarter the size of an equivalent plant on land. Shell’s technology has been adapted for the floating LNG, and engineers designed components that will stack vertically to save space.
According to Shell, FLNG will enable the development of gas resources ranging from clusters of smaller more remote fields to potentially larger fields via multiple facilities where, “for a range of reasons, an onshore development is not viable.” This can mean faster, cheaper, more flexible development and deployment strategies for resources that were previously uneconomic, or constrained by technical or other risks.
In related reporting from The West Australian (Klinger) ,“Shell will not reveal its budget for the Prelude FLNG venture, with analysts tipping a figure of about $12 billion. Shell hopes to turn its FLNG vessel into an off-the-shelf model that will ensure a drop in construction costs as more and more vessels are built.”
There are also fears that the huge offshore processing plant will move jobs from onshore while reducing state royalties, as reported in a later article in The West Australian (AAP).