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Shell floats hull for Prelude, world’s largest floating facility; 3.6M tonnes LNG per year

The 488-meter (1,601-foot) hull of Shell’s Prelude floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) facility has been floated out of the dry dock at the Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) yard in Geoje, South Korea, where the facility is currently under construction. Once complete, Prelude FLNG will be the largest floating facility ever built. (Earlier post.) It will produce approximately 3.6 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) per year.

Floating Prelude out of dry dock. Click to enlarge.

The FLNG facility will weigh more than 600,000 tonnes fully loaded, displacing the same amount of water as six of the world’s largest aircraft carriers.

Although it is quite large, the Prelude facility takes up only 1/4 the area of an equivalent onshore LNG plant.

Existing technology that has been adapted for FLNG includes:

  • Close coupling between the producing wells and the LNG processing facility.

  • Mooring systems—making it bigger for the largest floating facility ever built and dealing with the associated forces.

  • The marinization of processing equipment, so that it will work on a floating facility.

  • Water intake risers, as water will be used as part of the cooling process needed to turn the gas into LNG.

  • LNG tanks that can handle sloshing—the motions of the liquid LNG within the hull if and when there are stormy seas.

  • LNG offloading arms which will transfer LNG from the facility to the ships moored alongside—two moving facilities instead of just one.

FLNG will allow Shell to produce natural gas at sea, turn it into liquefied natural gas and then transfer it directly to the ships that will transport it to customers. It 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.

Prelude FLNG is the first deployment of Shell’s FLNG technology and will operate in a remote basin around 475 kilometers (295 miles) north-east of Broome, Western Australia for around 25 years. The facility will remain onsite during all weather events, having been designed to withstand a category 5 cyclone.

Shell is the operator of Prelude FLNG in joint venture with INPEX (17.5%), KOGAS (10%) and OPIC (5%), working with long-term strategic partners Technip and Samsung Heavy Industries (the Technip Samsung Consortium).


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