Global demand for natural gas could rise by more than half by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency. Many natural gas resources are located in offshore fields, but geographic, technical and economic limitations make a number of these challenging to develop. 

Floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) technology is designed to overcome these challenges. It is complementary to conventional onshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) as it helps accelerate the development of gas resources to meet the world’s growing demand.

How does FLNG technology work?

FLNG technology makes the production, liquefaction and storage of natural gas possible at sea. LNG is transferred directly from the floating facility to specific carriers, for convenient shipping to countries around in the world. 

Aboard an FLNG facility, natural gas produced from underwater fields is processed and chilled to -162° Celsius (-260° Fahrenheit). This shrinks its volume by 600 times to create LNG. The advanced design of facility’s on-board LNG plant packs a typical land-based LNG plant into a fraction of its normal size.

Into reality: Prelude FLNG

Shell is taking great strides towards delivering its first FLNG project – Prelude FLNG. Prelude FLNG will be the world’s largest offshore floating facility. Prelude is now on location, 475km (295 miles) north-north east of Broome, Western Australia, where the next phase of the project begins. Once operating, Prelude FLNG will produce and liquefy natural gas from the Browse Basin.

Our Prelude FLNG project is expected to create significant economic and social benefits for Australia. They include hundreds of jobs, tax revenues, businesses opportunities for local companies, and community programmes.

Read more about Prelude FLNG in our major projects section

Huge but compact

Prelude’s hull is 488 metres long (1,600 feet), stretching further than four soccer fields laid end to end. Despite its large proportions, the FLNG facility will take up just a quarter of the footprint of an equivalent land-based LNG plant.

Safety in design

Shell has made safety the central focus of FLNG technology since we began developing it in the 1990s. We have incorporated proven LNG technologies and developed new ones to ensure the Prelude 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.

Built to last

The Prelude facility is designed to remain at sea for around 25 years. It will be moored in the Browse Basin off the north-west coast of Australia, in about 250 metres of water. FLNG facilities can be re-deployed to develop new gas fields.

Reduced impact

FLNG technology offers countries a more environmentally-sensitive way to develop natural gas resources. Prelude will have a much smaller environmental footprint than land-based LNG plants, which require major infrastructure works. It also eliminates the need for long pipelines to land.

Benefits to Australia

Over the lifespan of Prelude, the project is expected to add billions of revenue to Australia’s economy, create hundreds of direct and indirect jobs, spend billions on Australian goods and services and improve the country’s balance of trade through export of LNG, LPG and condensate.

More in energy and innovation

LNG for transport

Liquefied natural gas can be a cost-competitive and cleaner fuel for heavy-duty road transport, shipping and industrial users. 

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