Prelude LNG Facility
The Shell Prelude LNG facility project is one of the largest of its kind in the world. It is designed to produce liquefied natural gas and many of its features are unique to the oil and gas industry.
The Browse Basin is a large gas reserve off the coast of Western Australia. However, it is located under ocean waters and this presents unique challenges for Shell and its partners.
Originally, Royal Dutch Shell, Woodside Petroleum, BP and other companies, planned a liquefied natural gas processing plant onshore in Western Australia.
The plant would take in gas, process it, and then ship it to customers. However, Shell realized it was more efficient to process gas directly from the gas wells in the Browse Basin, so they began plans for a floating structure.
The plan is to pump the gas from the wells to the processing area, where it is turned into liquefied natural gas. This floating structure is known as the Prelude LNG facility and both Australia and Asia stand to benefit from the increased source of natural gas available soon.
Natural gas takes up a lot of space but it can be condensed. This makes it easier to ship and store, and saves a lot on logistic costs. By lowering natural gas’s temperature to minus 260 Fahrenheit (162 Celsius), you create liquid natural gas (LNG) with a volume 600 times less than its natural state.
As energy demands increase all over the world, so does the need for sources of clean energy. Liquefied natural gas emits a lot less carbon dioxide than coal-fed generators and fuel oil driven processing plants.
A floating gas processing plant is more efficient because gas is not shipped or piped to an onshore facility.
Prelude LNG Facility Partners
Royal Dutch Shell, KOGAS, CPC, and Inpex are the main parties involved in the venture. Technip and a Samsung Consortium did the construction which takes place in South Korea.
The plan is to create the facility in South Korea and then tow it to Western Australia, making it the largest sea vessel ever built.
To give you an idea of the scale of the project, all in all, there are ten countries are involved in the design, planning, manufacturing, and towing process of the prelude project.
Prelude LNG Facility Size
The Prelude LNG facility is 1601 feet long (488 meters) and 243 (74 meters) feet long. The construction required 260, 000 metric tons (278,000 US tons) of steel.
To give you an indication of the sheer mammoth size of this project, If you took four football fields and placed them end to end, they would still not be quite as long as the plant.
Prelude Project Location
The processing plant location is about 200 kilometers (124 miles) offshore of Western Australia. The area is desolate and isolated. The plant is expected to remain in operation for twenty-five years.
By the time the plant reaches full operational capacity, it should produce over 3.5 million metric tons of liquefied natural gas each year.
Also, it should process 1.3 million metric tons of gas condensate and . 4 million metric tons of LP gas, annually. Shell estimates total production could exceed 100 percent of a city like Hong King’s needs, and gas processing is expected in 2017.
Jobs and Cost
Some estimates predict about ten billion dollars in costs. However, final costs could total twelve billion plus.
Thousands of people are involved on the project. In fact, around 5,000 workers are currently involved on a daily basis, until its completion. Between 100 and 120 people will work and live on the offshore floating processing plant.
The impact on the environment is considerably less than building an onshore processing plant which is a huge step forward for modern day oil and gas production.
Building a project like the prelude facility certainly requires far fewer resources and materials and takes up less seabed area than onshore facilities.
Also, the impact on the local environment is very limited because pipelines don’t actually need to be installed across the land.
Environmental impacts are taken extremely seriously in this part of the world, whale migration activities and coastal reefs are not disturbed to name just a couple of examples of the thought process, plus bird migration routes and turtle breeding areas are unaffected.
Building the Prelude LNG facility requires a great deal of fortification. For example, it must withstand the forces of a category 5 cyclone.
This requires an extensive undersea infrastructure and a mooring system nearly one hundred meters tall, weighing more than eleven thousand tons.
The specially designed turret system is twenty-six meters in diameter, “Drydocks World” who are company based in Dubai, built the mooring structure.
An immense floating LNG Facility needs anchor mooring chains to keep it in place. Vicinay Cadenas, a Spanish manufacturing company, made over ten miles of huge steel chain, weighing more than eight thousand tons.
Shell expects to save a lot of time, labour, and money by keeping the plant moored during extreme weather conditions hence the sophistication of the design.
It may not have to close down for storms and there’s no need to evacuate workers. However, the company has emergency evacuation plans and equipment on hand, for safety reasons.
Thanks to Shell for the image and video which help make this article, Shell must take great credit for their extremely forward and innovative thinking that will not only provide huge natural gas resources but they have managed to create an environmentally friendly project that is pedestal for future projects.