Shell’s floating LNG refinery hits the waves

A floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) structure said to be the world’s largest sea-going vessel is expected to hit the waves in 2018. Shell’s Prelude is not strictly a ship […]

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By Jonny Bairstow

A floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) structure said to be the world’s largest sea-going vessel is expected to hit the waves in 2018.

Shell’s Prelude is not strictly a ship in the traditional sense as it is not independently powered – it will be towed around and focus on the extraction and processing of gas at sea.

It is around a third of a mile long, displaces as much water as six aircraft carriers and is expected to produce enough natural gas to power a city the size of Hong Kong.

The floating facility is now sitting at its first location, Shell’s Prelude gas field in Australia.

Gas will be pumped up from below the seabed to the floating platform, where it is cooled. LNG ships will then pull up alongside, fill their tanks and transport it to customers.

The energy giant says this reduces the need for long pipelines to carry gas to land and predicts the ship will remain at the Prelude field for around 25 years, before being towed to another offshore site.

Shell says it will harvest at least 5.3 million tons per annum (mtpa) of liquids — 3.6 mtpa of LNG, 1.3 mtpa of condensate and 0.4 mtpa of liquefied petroleum gas.