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World's largest ship floated for the first time


December 4, 2013

The 488-m-long hull of the Prelude FLNG is floated for the first time

The 488-m-long hull of the Prelude FLNG is floated for the first time

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A hull longer than the Empire State Building is tall has been floated out of dry dock in Geoje, South Korea. Measuring 488 m (1,601 ft) long and 74 m (243 ft) wide, the hull belongs to Shell's Prelude floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) facility, which upon completion will be the largest floating facility ever built.

Intended to allow production of natural gas, the processing of it into liquefied natural gas (LNG) and finally the transfer directly to transport ships, all while at sea, the Prelude will weigh more than 600,000 tonnes (661,400 tons) fully loaded and is expected to produce around 3.6 million tonnes (3.9 million tons) of LNG per year. Its total storage capacity is over 430 million liters (114 million US gal), or equivalent to around 175 Olympic swimming pools.

The Prelude FLNG will operate in a remote basin around 475 km (295 miles) northeast of Broome, Western Australia for around 25 years. The area's cyclone season runs from late November to April, but the Prelude is designed to remain onsite all year-round in all weather conditions.

It has been designed to withstand a category 5 cyclone and will be secured in place by one of the largest mooring systems in the world. This consists of a 93-m (305-ft) high turret, (which is large enough to house the Arc de Triomphe) that runs through the Prelude and is anchored to the seabed by four groups of mooring lines.

The mooring system allows the facility to turn slowly in the wind so as to absorb the impact of strong weather while remaining moored over the gas field. Additionally, two of the three 6,700-hp thrusters at the rear of the Prelude are able to operate at the same time to turn the facility out of the wind and allow LNG carriers to pull safely alongside for loading.

The floating behemoth is expected to be completed and producing natural gas by 2017. However, it may soon be overshadowed by something even larger. "We are designing a larger facility," Bruce Steenson, Shell's general manager of integrated gas programmes and innovation told Reuters last week. "That will be the next car off the rails."

The following video gives a brief overview of the Prelude FLNG.

Source: Shell

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

Fantastic vision and engineering. Well done SHELL for keeping the world supplied with much needed energy.

Craig King

too bad shell didn't have it built in the usa. but then, can we even make a ship like that anymore???


I would like to take a tour of this ship

Ken Buckley

AMAZING engineering and construction project. GO HUMANS, GO!!!


uugghhh natural gas... That and I don't know if everyone's noticed how much attention they adhere to current standards and practices with current platforms. This is their way of eliminating the middle man (on-shore/off-shore) refineries to increase their profit margin. I will never be surprised by the greed-driven innovations they develop and feed to us as if it it will have any affect at all on anyone's pocket-books, but their own. They want more money, that's it. You're an idiot if you believe any innovation a corporation comes up with isn't to isn't profit margin.

Just wait, I can see in the headlines already, the name of this refinery/ships' name in the headlines accompanied by some disaster due to negligence.


I'm starting to think almost no one understands units of energy. In the video it says: "Each year Prelude will produce enough liquid natural gas to meet the needs of a city the size of Hong Kong." The energy requirements of a city are ongoing and can be measured in units of power like megawatts. The energy the Prelude can harvest in a year is a fixed chunk of energy. This statement is like saying my car produces 300 horsepower per year. It's nonsensical and I keep hearing from articles where the writers should know better!


"too bad shell didn't have it built in the usa"

Why on earth would it do that? Shell is an ANGLO- DUTCH company.

Keith Reeder

If the onshore hub at James Price point had been constructed we wouldn't need this kind of floating trash, and the engineering would be even more impressive. Unfortunately competing bands of "traditional owners" got hopelessly confused about who was more traditional. This equipment is a demonstration of how to bypass environmentalists by avoiding their habitat. Expect this ship to be harassed by Greenpeace like no other.


Just think - One of these ships, a few I/C fuel supply conversions (already proven technology) and the farce that is hydrogen power for cars would disappear.

The Skud

@ Keith Reeder

Because we Americans, as a group, are too lazy to do some simple research before making a statement. We see a Shell filling station on the corner and automatically assume that it is a purely American company, even when we see no other aspect of the company within our borders.



i agree. Australia's mines-friendly legislation was obviously too inconvenient, so Shell built something where they can just throw by-products 'over the side'.

Heck of a ship though.


@ warren52nz I read the statement as like-for-like. In a Year, the city of Hong Kong consumes X amount of liquid natural gas energy. In a Year, the Prelude can produce the same amount (X) of liquid natural gas. I'm not sure how you arrived at "my car produces 300 horsepower per year."


The reason to build it it was cheaper than laying 250 miles of pipeline to the land,obviously this is Austrailian very good job by them and Shell,which by the way has lots of operations in the USA, we have even more natural gas than Austrailia.By the way companies are supposed to make a profit ,it's what gives us the beautiful world we live in.

Paul Bedichek

It is not a ship, it does not have any propulsion system. Just a floating plant.

Vladimir Popov

Are you concerned about it's safety? The PR folks at Shell can easily earn their bonuses by getting the Shell's management head-quartered on this colossus. And it'd be one of the safest plants. I wish BP had done something like this you know where. PS They should change the name from Prelude to Greed, it'd be honest and less threatening


This made me think of a story I read about Disney once considering putting a Disneyland park on a ship to take to places around the world that did not have a Disneyland close. I totally would have gone to this.


Rann Xeroxx

It cracks me up when people say it's greedy to make money. Tell me just what is every business in the world in business for; isn't it to make money? Doesn't every company in the world try to maximize profits by being as efficient as possible and doing as much in house as possible? Doesn't every company try to get around over regulation whenever they can? In the U.S. over regulation is killing our business and it now costs businesses more than $10,000 per employee per year just to fulfill regulatory requirements.

In Oregon a clam harvester was fined $25,000 for washing the mud off of the clams and letting that mud return to the bay they took the clams out of. The government called it "pollution". Total amount of mud washed off the clams? About a pound a day! Amount of mud washed into the bay by the river? Probably millions of pounds a year.

So, YES, if Shell can get around some of that regulatory cost by going to sea more power to them. That cost must have been substantial for them to invest so much money in this floating tub.

Did you know Shell makes much less money per gallon of gas sold than the governments do through their taxes. And they make about the same percentage in profits as most other companies. Sure it's more money but only because they are larger. Where does that money go? To the employees and investors like retirement funds and small and large stock holders.

Don't be a hypocrite, if you hate them so much stop buying gasoline, oil and natural gas or any electricity produced by their oil, coal or natural gas. I, for one, am glad I can heat my house and fill the tank of my car.

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