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