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World's Largest Vessel set to sail in 2018

Shell’s mammoth floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) vessel, Prelude, the world’s largest vessel, is set to sail and begin its job of extracting and processing gas at sea next year.

The 488 meter long and 74 meter wide, the vessel is said to displace as much water as five aircraft carriers and its massive deck is longer that four soccer fields and its storage tanks would be equal to 175 Olympic-sized swimming pools. 

This floating giant at present is stationed at its first location, Shell's Prelude Gas Field, around 200 kilometers north of the Western Australian coast.

It will pump gas from below the seabed to the floating platform, where it is then cooled. LNG ships, serving Asian customers, will then pull up alongside and fill their tanks with liquefied gas that has been chilled to -162 degrees Celsius. And to cool the LNG, it needs 50 million liters of water every hour, another massive factor with Prelude.  

At full load, it will displace more than 600,000 tons, more than six times the displacement of the USS George Washington.

An interesting fact about this giant is it is not in the strictest sense a boat because it needs to be towed to its destinations.

Its ability to produce and offload gas to large carriers removes the need for long pipelines to land-based LNG processing plants. The technology is also lauded for the structure’s ability to be then used at another remote location.

However, the increase in cheap gas because of US shale technology has left some questioning the current value of an expensive offshore facility.

In 2016, Shell itself decided not to pursue a further three FLNG projects with Samsung.

Shell, along with joint venture partners KOGAS and Impex, estimate the ship will remain at the Prelude field for as long as 25 years before it is towed to another offshore field.

When fully operational, Shell says it will harvest at least 5.3 million tons per annum of liquids. The company claimed that amount of gas would be more than the annual needs of Hong Kong.

Shell has not disclosed the cost of the vessel; however, the analysts say that its price would sit between $10.8 billion and $12.6 billion.

The construction of this world’s largest facility began in 2012 and was finished in July by Samsung's Heavy Industries in South Korea, before being towed to Australia.

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