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Massive Floating LNG Platform Leaves Shipyard

Thursday, July 6, 2017

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It’s the world’s largest offshore structure, it’s built to withstand a Category 5 cyclone, and right now, Royal Dutch Shell’s Prelude FLNG platform is on its way to its permanent home, off the northwest coast of Australia, in the Indian Ocean.

Images: Royal Dutch Shell Co.

Shell announced last Thursday that Prelude set off from the Samsung Heavy Industries shipyard where it was built, in Geoji, South Korea, en route to the waters off of Broome, Australia.

Shell announced last Thursday (June 29) that Prelude set off from the Samsung Heavy Industries shipyard where it was built, in Geoji, South Korea, en route to the waters off of Broome, Australia, where it is expected to operate as a liquefied natural gas facility for 25 years. It is the second floating liquified natural gas platform to be put into operation; Petronas’ PFLNG Satu began production in Malaysia in 2016.

Scale of the Vessel

Once installed, Prelude will be 1,600 feet long and 242 feet wide, and with its cargo tanks full, Shell says the vessel will displace more than 600,000 metric tons, or more than 660,000 U.S. tons. It will be the equivalent of 30 stories high.

Shell began planning for Prelude in 2011, with INPEX, the Korea Gas Corporation and CPC Corporation later joining the project as partners. The Technip/Samsung Consortium serves as lead contractor on the project, for which major construction began in October 2012.

Prelude will reach the gas field where it will be located, about 295 miles off the Broome coast in the Indian Ocean, and will be secured with mooring chains that are already in place. Then, the work of fully installing and commissioning the platform will begin.

Coating Work Importance

The construction of Prelude has faced a number of setbacks. In 2016, a Shell spokesperson told shipping news outlet Tradewinds (subscription) that problems with the painting of the vessel’s water ballast tanks had been revealed during a routine inspection, leading to construction delays. According to Tradewinds, after some debate as to whether the coating materials or application were to blame for the defects, Shell and the shipyard settled on a plan to move forward with the work.


According to Shell, Prelude is 1,600 feet long and, with full cargo tanks, will displace 600,000 metric tons.

A 2014 video from Shell explores the painting and quality control on the project. Lead paint inspector Steve Bell explains in the video that, because the vessel will go to sea for 25 years and won’t return to dry dock for repainting, the coating work is crucial.

“Any defect in the paint would, in the long term, bring an early breakdown of the coating system, which would cause an early failure of the steel work,” Bell notes.

Shell says Prelude is made from 260,000 metric tons of steel.

LNG Production

Shell expects the platform to produce at least 3.6 million metric tons of LNG per year. LNG is produced by removing components like water, hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide from natural gas, then cooling the gas to about 162 degrees below zero Fahrenheit to condense it.

The volume of the natural gas is condensed by a magnitude of about 600 as a result of the cooling and liquefaction. Shell says about 50 million liters of cold water will be drawn in from the ocean every hour in order to cool the gas.


Tagged categories: Australia; Offshore; Oil and Gas; Program/Project Management; Ships and vessels

Comment from peter gibson, (7/6/2017, 11:45 AM)

Interesting that the paint can fail even at that high level of spec. Seems very strange.This is a trade publication,why no detail about the coating system. I notice many of the articles leave the reader hanging with a lot of questions. in future fill in the blanks. Don't just report give us background. Otherwise,just another boring article one could read about in the WSJ.

Comment from Jeffrey Smith, (7/7/2017, 8:25 AM)

Peter hit it on the head, details would be great and would be benificial to other guys using the same or similar coatings.

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