Royal Dutch Shell is doing what others have only dreamed of. The company is planning to build the world’s first ever floating LNG Plant.
Floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) is a technology that will allow Shell to access offshore gas fields that would be too difficult and too costly to develop.
Shell made a final investment decision in May 2011 to build the facility which will produce and export LNG off the coast of Australia at the site of the gas field. The vessel will be the largest floating offshore facility in the world. It will be 488m long—longer than four soccer fields end to end—and 74m wide. It will weigh around 600,000 tonnes—roughly six times as much as the largest aircraft carrier. Some 260,000 tonnes of that weight will consist of steel.
More than 1.6 million man hours were put into the Front End Engineering and Design (FEED) phase of development.
The next step is to build the mammoth facility. The Prelude will be built in South Korea—the country is home to the only facility big enough to undertake such construction. Then it will be towed to its home in western Australia. Prelude will be hooked to undersea infrastructure and will stay there for about 25 years before needing to dock for inspection and overhaul. The LNG, LPG, and condensate produced will be stored in tanks in the facility’s hull. Carriers will moor alongside to offload products.
Shell’s website indicated that the facility is expected to produce LNG at the facility some ten years after its initial discovery of the Prelude gas field in 2007.
The Prelude FLNG facility will produce at least 5.3 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of liquids: 3.6 mtpa of LNG, 1.3 mtpa of condensate (equivalent to 35,000 bbl/d) and 0.4 mtpa of LPG.
The floating facility will chill natural gas produced at the field to –162°C, shrinking its volume by 600 times so it can be shipped to customers in other parts of the world. Ocean-going carriers will load the LNG as well as other liquid by-products (condensate and LPG) for delivery to market.
To watch a video about the FLNG facility, visit http://www.shell.com/home/content/aboutshell/our_strategy/major_projects_2/prelude_flng/animation/.