Shell floats hull for massive Prelude FLNG facility

The 488-meter-long hull of Shell’s Prelude floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) plant has been floated out of the dry dock at the Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) yard in Geoje, South Korea, where it is currently under construction, the company said on Tuesday.

Once complete, Prelude FLNG will be the largest floating facility ever built. It will unlock new energy resources offshore and produce approximately 3.6 million tpy of LNG to meet growing demand, according to the company.

“Making FLNG a reality is no simple feat," said Matthias Bichsel, director of projects and technology for Shell. "A project of this complexity -- oth in size and ingenuity -- harnesses the best of engineering, design, manufacturing and supply chain expertise from around the world."

"Getting to this stage of construction, given we only cut the first steel a year ago, is down to the expert team we have ensuring that the project’s critical dimensions of safety, quality, cost and schedule are delivered," he added.

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, according to the company.

Prelude FLNG is the first deployment of Shell’s FLNG technology and will operate in a remote basin around 475 kilometers north-east of Broome, Western Australia, for around 25 years. The facility will remain onsite during all weather events, the company says, 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%). It is also working with long-term strategic partners Technip and Samsung Heavy Industries (the Technip Samsung Consortium). 

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