Shell‘s Prelude FLNG, the world’s largest floating liquefied natural gas unit (FLNG), off the coast of Western Australia, has been allowed to restart after being forced to shut down for three months due to a fire.
According to local Australian media reports, on March 18, NOPSEMA, the Australian offshore oil and gas safety regulator, has canceled all regulatory idleness for Shell to restart Prelude FLNG. However, the timing of the resumption of operations at Prelude FLNG remains uncertain, with Shell saying: “We will continue to work through the process in an orderly manner, with a focus on safety and stability, in preparation for the restart.”
In early December last year, a fire broke out at the Prelude FLNG, the main power supply was lost, and the power supply was unstable. Australia’s offshore oil and gas safety regulator NOPSEMA, therefore, ordered Shell to close the Prelude FLNG facility at the end of December until it was confirmed that the FLNG could operate normally and safely. This is the second time the Prelude FLNG has been forced to shut down since it started production.
In February, Shell confirmed that Prelude FLNG would remain closed in the first quarter. Shell said at the time that it needed to carefully address its problems before restarting FLNG, having identified an electrical fault in the battery system associated with the uninterruptible power supply. In addition, the delay in restarting is also caused by Australia’s strict epidemic prevention regulations.
It is understood that Prelude FLNG, built by South Korea’s Samsung Heavy Industries, is the world’s largest floating offshore plant. The FLNG ship is 489 meters long, 74 meters wide, and has a displacement of about 600,000 tons. It was built with about 260,000 tons of steel and has more than 150 patents. Capable of producing 3.6 million tonnes of LNG, 1.3 million tonnes of condensate, and 400,000 tonnes of LPG annually, Prelude FLNG is designed to withstand once-in-a-century storms, enough to continue operations during the severe weather conditions of Australia’s tropical cyclone season.
Although the cost has never been announced, the industry speculates that the Prelude FLNG project cost more than 17 billion US dollars, even more than the USS Ford aircraft carrier (about 13 billion US dollars). However, Prelude FLNG has experienced a series of safety and production issues since it set sail from South Korea’s Samsung Heavy Industries for its moorings off the coast of Australia in mid-2017. In fact, over the past four and a half years, Prelude FLNG has been in normal operation for less than 12 months.
Prelude FLNG shipped its first cargo in June 2019, two years behind schedule. But just over half a year later, Prelude FLNG was shut down in February 2020 due to a power failure. Prelude FLNG resumed production in January 2021 after a shutdown of up to 11 months. Prelude FLNG has been operating normally for most of 2021 until a fire in early December shut it down again.
It is understood that Prelude FLNG is located about 475 kilometers north-northeast of Broome, Western Australia. Shell owns 67.5% of the shares, and the remaining shares are owned by Japan International Petroleum Development Co., Ltd ( Inpex 17.5%), Kogas (10%), and Taiwan PetroChina (5%).
据澳大利亚当地媒体报道，3月18日澳大利亚海上油气安全监管机构NOPSEMA已经取消了对壳牌重启Prelude FLNG的所有监管闲置。不过，Prelude FLNG恢复运营的时间仍未确定，壳牌表示：“我们将继续有条不紊地完成整个过程，以安全和稳定为重点，为重启做好准备。”
去年12月初，Prelude FLNG突发火灾，失去主电源，电力供应不稳定。澳大利亚海上油气安全监管机构NOPSEMA因此在12月底下令壳牌关闭Prelude FLNG设施，直到确认FLNG能够正常和安全地运作。这是Prelude FLNG投产以来第二次被迫关闭。
据了解，Prelude FLNG由韩国三星重工建造，是全球最大的浮式海工装置。这艘FLNG船长489米，型宽74米，排水量达约60万吨，建造时采用了大约26万吨钢材，具有超过150项专利。Prelude FLNG每年能够生产360万吨LNG、130万吨冷凝水和400000吨LPG，其设计可抵抗百年一遇的暴风雨，足以在澳大利亚热带气旋季恶劣的天气情况下继续运营。
虽然造价从未公布，但业界推测Prelude FLNG项目耗资超过了170亿美元（约合人民币1138.49亿元），甚至超过了美国海军福特号航空母舰（约130亿美元）。然而，自2017年年中从韩国三星重工起航前往澳大利亚沿海的系泊地点以来，Prelude FLNG就经历了一系列安全和生产问题。事实上，在过去的四年半时间里，Prelude FLNG正常工作的时间甚至不到12个月。
Prelude FLNG在2019年6月发运首批货物，比原计划推迟了两年。但仅仅在半年多后，Prelude FLNG就在2020年2月因电力故障而关闭。在停产长达11个月后，Prelude FLNG于2021年1月恢复生产。2021年大部分时间里，Prelude FLNG一直在正常运行，直到12月初发生火灾再度停产。