Australia approves Shell's giant floating LNG plant

12th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Australia gave environmental approval Friday for Shell to install a revolutionary floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) platform, paving the way for the world's longest vessel.

Environment Minister Tony Burke gave the green light with conditions aimed at protecting the area off sparsely populated northwestern Australia from damage including oil spills.

"This is a large-scale project that is using world-first technology. We can't risk getting it wrong, so I have set very strict conditions to help ensure our precious marine environment will be protected," he said.

The giant structure, the length of five football pitches, will cool gas from Shell's Prelude field into liquid for shipping. The new and relatively clean energy source is set to become a major industry in Australia.

"Deploying our floating LNG technology reduces the project's cost and environmental footprint," said Ann Pickard, chairwoman of the Anglo-Dutch company's Australian wing.

"It removes the need for offshore compression platforms, long pipelines to shore, nearshore works such as dredging and jetty construction, and onshore development such as building roads, laydown areas and accommodation."

Shell said the floating structure, which will reportedly cost 5.0 billion US dollars, would be some 480 metres (yards) long, 75 metres wide, and weigh about 600,000 tonnes.

A spokeswoman said talks on a production licence were "progressing well" and a final investment decision was expected to be made next year, with the platform scheduled to open in 2016.

© 2010 AFP

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