Shell to Build Biggest Floating Plant

Friday, May 20, 2011 @ 04:05 PM gHale


Royal Dutch Shell PLC is going to build the biggest floating natural gas processing plant ever. It will be longer than four football fields and more massive than any aircraft carrier.

The “Prelude FLNG” facility, which will anchor off the Australian coast, will consist of 260,000 tons of steel — five times more than Sydney’s famed Harbour Bridge, Shell officials said.

It will be able to take in the equivalent of 110,000 barrels per day in gas from undersea fields 200 kilometers (125 miles) off Australia’s Northwest coast and cool it into liquefied natural gas, known as LNG.

Australia is awash in natural gas, and is eager to sell it to the booming economies of Asia.

In order for natural gas to ship overseas, it must cool to -260 degrees Fahrenheit. At that temperature the gas becomes a liquid that takes up just 0.2 percent of the volume of the gas, allowing more gas to pack on a ship.

The Australian oil and gas company Woodside is set to begin production at a giant onshore liquid natural gas facility in Western Australia this year and is considering doubling its size.

Shell said the floating plant will be able to withstand category 5 cyclones, the worst type of storms, and will remain moored above the Prelude gas field for 25 years.

Shell said they will build the floating plant in a South Korean shipyard but did not say how much it would cost.

A company spokeswoman declined to set a date for the plant’s completion date, but noted the schedule for the Prelude gas field to start production is around 2017.

Shell plans $30 billion in various investments in Australia over the coming five years, the company has said.



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