Shell’s Floating LNG Project in Australia

The Board of Royal Dutch Shell plc (Shell) has taken the final investment decision on the Prelude Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) Project in Australia (100% Shell), building the world’s first FLNG facility.

Moored far out to sea, some 200 kilometres from the nearest land in Australia, the FLNG facility will produce gas from offshore fields, and liquefy it onboard by cooling.

The decision means that Shell is now ready to start detailed design and construction of what will be the world’s largest floating offshore facility, in a ship yard in South Korea.

From bow to stern, Shell’s FLNG facility will be 488 metres long, and will be the largest floating offshore facility in the world – longer than four soccer fields laid end to end.

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When fully equipped and with its storage tanks full, 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, around five times more than was used to build the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

“Our innovative FLNG technology will allow us to develop offshore gas fields that otherwise would be too costly to develop,” said Malcolm Brinded, Shell’s executive director, Upstream International.

“Our decision to go ahead with this project is a true breakthrough for the LNG industry, giving it a significant boost to help meet the world’s growing demand for the cleanest-burning fossil fuel.”

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The facility has been designed to withstand the severest cyclones – those of Category 5. Ocean-going LNG carriers will offload liquefied gas, chilled to minus162 Celsius and shrunk in volume by 600 times, and other products, directly from the facility out at sea for delivery to markets worldwide. Until now, the liquefaction of offshore gas has always involved piping the gas to a land-based plant.

The Prelude FLNG project will be the first Australian upstream project in which Shell is the operator. Australia is one of Shell’s key growth provinces, and Shell’s upstream investment in Australia should reach some $30 billion over the next five years, including the Prelude and Gorgon projects, and on-going exploration and feasibility studies in the country.

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