Shell approves giant floating LNG plant
Royal Dutch Shell said Friday it will go ahead with a giant floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Australian waters, putting it on course to be the first in the world to use such technology.
The Australian government last year gave environmental approval for Shell to install the revolutionary 488-metre (1,600-foot) vessel off the country's sparsely populated north-west coast.
The technology will allow the company to develop offshore gas fields that otherwise would be too costly to develop, Shell's Malcolm Brinded said.
"Our decision to go ahead with this project is a true breakthrough for the LNG industry, giving it a significant boost to help meet the world's growing demand for the cleanest-burning fossil fuel," he said.
Moored some 200 kilometres (125 miles) out to sea, the facility will produce gas from offshore fields, and liquefy it onboard by cooling.
Other floating vessels have been discussed for deep water projects around the world but Shell's final investment approval for its Prelude development is a global first.
Shell said the decision means that it can start detailed design and construction, in a ship yard in South Korea, of what it said would be the world's largest floating offshore facility.
The development is particularly relevant for Australia, which is believed to have stranded gas reserves worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
The plant would be towed to each spot and temporarily anchored to the seabed. Brinded said tankers could carry the LNG from the vessel, designed to withstand the strongest cyclones, to customers by 2017.
-- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this story --
© 2011 AFP