Mile­stone as Pre­lude sends off its first cargo of gas

The West Australian - - WESTBUSINE­SS - PETER MILNE

Al­most two years af­ter sail­ing into Aus­tralian wa­ters Shell’s gi­ant Pre­lude — the big­gest off­shore fa­cil­ity ever built — has shipped its first cargo of LNG.

The Span­ish car­rier Va­len­cia Knut­sen left Pre­lude, 475km north-east of Broome, on Mon­day night with a full load of LNG for cus­tomers in Asia.

Maarten Wet­se­laar, Shell gas and new en­er­gies di­rec­tor, said it was an im­por­tant mile­stone for the project. “Today’s first ship­ment of LNG de­parted from Pre­lude FLNG, safely,” Mr Wet­se­laar said. “Every­one in­volved should be very proud of the work taken to reach this im­por­tant mile­stone.”

The Va­len­cia Knut­sen was along­side the 488m-long Pre­lude for 21⁄2 days, ac­cord­ing to ves­sel track­ing web­site MarineTraf­fic.

The Korean-built Pre­lude, the big­gest and per­haps most com­plex off­shore fa­cil­ity in the world, had prob­lems moor­ing ves­sels along­side it last year.

Pre­lude must load a car­rier ev­ery five to seven days — a process planned to take about 15 hours — to pro­duce its name­plate ca­pac­ity of 3.6 mil­lion tonnes a year of LNG.

Shell vice-pres­i­dent for Pre­lude Rob Jager said in May that Pre­lude’s role as an open-sea port was prob­a­bly the most unique and un­der­rated as­pect of the fa­cil­ity.

“We con­tinue to have to work through to make sure that it gives us a safe, sus­tain­able, pre­dictable way of of­fload­ing,” he said. “Be­cause ul­ti­mately, it’s go­ing to be a bit of a pro­duc­tion line once this thing is sta­ble and up and run­ning.”

Wood Macken­zie an­a­lyst Daniel Tole­man said Shell would hope to get to full pro­duc­tion fast to min­imise the loss of re­serves to the nearby Ichthys project be­cause the fields were con­nected. “How fast Pre­lude de­liv­ers its sec­ond and third cargo, and ramps up to plateau out­put, will be a key in­di­ca­tor of suc­cess,” he said.

Mr Tole­man said the com­ple­tion of Pre­lude marked the end of Aus­tralia’s green­field LNG boom, which in­cluded the Gor­gon, Wheat­stone and Ichthys projects.

The Pre­lude crew gather on the he­lideck to farewell the Va­len­cia Knut­sen, the first to take a load of LNG from the fa­cil­ity.

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