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Shell to Build World’s Largest Offshore Floating Facility

September 12, 2011

When there’s billions of dollars worth of natural gas underneath the sea floor, it’s not surprising these resource suckers will start to populate the ocean. From a Shell press release:

The Board of Royal Dutch Shell plc (Shell) has taken the final investment decision on the Prelude Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) Project in Australia (100% Shell), building the world’s first FLNG facility. Moored far out to sea, some 200 kilometres from the nearest land in Australia, the FLNG facility will produce gas from offshore fields, and liquefy it onboard by cooling.

The decision means that Shell is now ready to start detailed design and construction of what will be the world’s largest floating offshore facility, in a ship yard in South Korea.

From bow to stern, Shell’s FLNG facility will be 488 metres long, and will be the largest floating offshore facility in the world – longer than four soccer fields laid end to end.  When fully equipped and with its storage tanks full, it will weigh around 600,000 tonnes – roughly six times as much as the largest aircraft carrier. Some 260,000 tonnes of that weight will consist of steel – around five times more than was used to build the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Shell has no plans to enter the market for competitive governance, as far as I know. (Which isn’t very far. Maybe this facility, called the Prelude, will operate under different laws from Australia.) Still, it’s a good way to instantiate a seasteading concept. The enormous amounts of capital involved to obtain a highly valued, but out of the way resource are a bit sobering for political idealists. The Prelude is being built, not on a dream of a new constitution, but for profit. And lots of it at that.


  1. September 12, 2011 7:54 pm

    Now, if this monster of a ship/facility stay in the same place all the time, there could be the reason to build some smaller ship/facility to help the crew to R&R, to supply them with fresh food, assorted services and so on.
    120 people of crew are not many, but….

  2. September 12, 2011 2:16 pm

    Hey, if it can’t be done at a profit, it probably shouldn’t be done at all. And if there’s money to be made as a result of being a proving ground for the technologies that those of us with secondary (that is, ideological) motives will undoubtedly need, then we’re more likely to see more of it happening.

    • Mike Gibson permalink*
      September 12, 2011 4:17 pm


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