Shell has firmed up plans to invest in in the world’s first floating Liquid Natural Gas project in Australia.
The decision means that design and construction of the FLNG can go ahead at a ship yard in South Korea.
Moored 200 kilometres out to sea, the FLNG facility will be built to withstand the impact of Category 5 cyclones, the most severe on the scale.
Stretching to 488 metres long, it will weigh around 600,000 tonnes when fully loaded – roughly six times as much as the largest aircraft carrier.
Malcolm Brinded, Shell’s Upstream International Executive Director said the decision was a “true breakthrough” for the industry: “FLNG technology is an exciting innovation, complementary to onshore LNG, which can help accelerate the development of gas resources.”
He added that the technology would let them access offshore gas fields that otherwise would be too costly to develop.
Until now, the liquefaction of offshore gas has always involved piping the gas to a land-based plant. The FLNG will produce gas from offshore fields and liquefy it onboard by cooling.
The Prelude field was discovered in 2007, but a spokesperson for Shell told ELN that the research making it all happen has been in the pipeline for at least a decade. It is expected to produce around 5.3 million tonnes per year including 3.6 million tonnes of LNG.
The project forms part of Shell’s $30 billion investment in Australia.