Global demand for natural gas could rise by more than half by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency. But not all gas fields are located close to the countries and cities where it is needed.

Chilling gas to -162° Celsius (-260° Fahrenheit) converts it into liquefied natural gas (LNG). This reduces its volume by 600 times so it can be shipped economically to markets around the world.

Engineers onshore talking with Prelude FLNG in the background

Why produce LNG at sea?

Traditionally, LNG plants are built on land. But Shell is now surging ahead with the world’s first floating liquefied natural gas project, Prelude FLNG. It will also be the largest offshore floating facility ever built.

By moving production and processing offshore, we can bring new energy resources that are too uneconomic or challenging to develop from land within reach. 

With more than five decades of experience in the LNG industry, Shell has developed revolutionary technology that allows gas to be produced, liquefied, stored and offloaded into LNG carriers at sea. It allows, for instance, clusters of smaller, remote fields to be unlocked by one FLNG facility, or larger fields to be served by several FLNG facilities.

Huge, but smaller 

Currently under construction, Prelude will be 488 metres (1,600 feet) long and 74m (243ft) wide. When fully equipped and with its cargo tanks full it will weigh more than 600,000 tonnes. 

But Prelude is also about being smaller. Despite its impressive proportions, the facility packs an LNG plant on board in just one-quarter of the area of an equivalent plant on land.

When completed, Prelude FLNG will be moored some 200 kilometres (124 miles) off Australia’s north-west coast, where it will be connected to the Prelude field’s underwater production system.

Safety is our priority

Shell began developing FLNG in the 1990s. Our expertise in many different fields has made it possible: upstream infrastructure, floating production, gas treatment and liquefaction, LNG shipping and marine operations, delivery of mega-sized projects, and marketing and trading.

Safety has been our priority when designing FLNG. We have incorporated proven LNG technologies and developed new ones to ensure the facility can operate safely at sea. Prelude is designed to remain in place in severe weather conditions and even withstand a 1-in-10,000 year storm.

FLNG takes off

There are already plans to use our FLNG technology and expertise elsewhere.

Shell, as strategic partner of INPEX in the Abadi project, is leveraging its LNG and FLNG expertise to support INPEX in the planned development of the Abadi field.

The Woodside-operated Browse joint venture selected the use of FLNG technology in conjunction with a subsea development as the preferred development concept for the Brecknock, Calliance and Torosa fields in the Browse Basin off the coast of Australia. On 30 June 2015, the Browse joint venture agreed to enter the front-end engineering and design (FEED) phase for the proposed Browse FLNG development. 

Read the Woodside press release

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