The Prelude FLNG vessel during its journey from the shipyard in South Korea to its position off the northwest coast of Australia. (Source: Shell Australia)
It took eight weeks for the world’s largest floating gas production vessel to be hauled by tugboats from a South Korean shipyard to the spot almost 500 km off the northwest coast of Australia where it was moored last month.
For the next 25 years this red-hulled Goliath—the length of four football fields and nine times the weight of the UK’s new aircraft carrier when fully loaded—will harvest gas from subsea wells and convert it into super-cooled LNG. Tankers will visit the ship once a week to offload its LNG for export.
The $14 billion Prelude project, led by Royal Dutch Shell, is the latest in a surge of new LNG capacity which promises to reshape the oil and gas industry—and with it, the energy markets it serves. Chevron’s Wheatstone LNG development in Australia is due to start producing this month, on the heels of its nearby Gorgon project last year, after a combined $88 billion of investment. ExxonMobil, BP, Total and Eni have also made big commitments.