In South Korea Samsung Heavy Industries is busy building Shell's 488 meter, 600,000 dwt Prelude, the world's largest offshore floating LNG facility. It's a completely new concept, but it's gaining interest from energy companies worldwide.
Starting around 2017, Shell plans to moor the vessel 200 kilometers off the Australian Coast at the Prelude gas field for 25 years, where it is expected to produce, liquefy, store, and offload the equivalent of 110,000 BOE per day. The video in the upper right shows the scope of the construction project.
Visiting the Samsung ship yard to check on the ship's progress, CEO Peter Voser told The Telegraph there was no reason why the technology wouldn't take off worldwide.
Looking to the future, he said: "In 20, 30 years, I could see a lot of floaters out there." Then he added that there was 800 trillion cubic feet of discovered gas in water depths of more than 600 feet. "If even a modest proportion is developed through floating LNG technology, the prize is really large."
Shell hasn't disclosed the Prelude's cost, but most analysts put it at $13 Billion, making it a very bold and expensive gamble. Never the less, Voser confidently said that in two decades Shell was likely to have built even more.