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Bintulu Belacan: We were lucky in the 1993 SMDS explosion as it was Christmas Eve when everyone was off. For the record Train 9 is part of LNG facilities next door not part of SMDS. Just wish Prelude all the best.
shellwaarbenjijnu: @Deltaic - don't wish to be overly "pickey" but I thought the discussion was around the safe functioning of the Bintulu GTL (pilot) plant. Train #9 refers to yet another addition to the LNG plant the functionality and safety of which was not under discussion.
Deltaic: Good job that those with real knowledge about projects kept going with aviation development (despite crashes and deaths) else we would be in some trouble wouldn't we!! Guess you don't fly Outsider. Still agree with LL as the Bintulu project has been a success despite some early problems and hence train 9 being built.
Outsider: I am amazed to hear yet again that a project which resulted in an explosion and fire and the destruction of hundreds of millions of dollars that had been spent on its construction is a “success” – how are we supposed to take these people seriously? According to their logic, if Prelude blows up, but later designs of FLNG plant do not, then Prelude was a success? Trial and error is not normally the design approach used for multi-billion dollar projects.
Deltaic: Releived and Outsider really have no knowledge of what Shell is doing or has done regarding the building and addressing of safety issues with Prelude. All that comes across to me is a couple of people who have no idea of the project but merely guess incorrectly. Either way the project goes ahead and the moaners carry on wasting their time. Having been involved with Bintulu I have to agree with London Lad and say that it has in the end been an excellent project for all concerned.
Outsider: LondonLad: you answer your own question quite admirably: I believe that there are lots of advantages to new technology which should be exploited to the extent possible. However, with all new technologies there is also a risk that something has been overlooked, the consequences of which may be catastrophic - as with the effects of the smoke from forest fires on the Bintulu GTL plant. Nobody actually knows what is going to happen to Prelude when it gets hit by a cyclone, but there will be green water going across the decks and through the process facilities with enormous force.
It may be interesting for your readers to know that the process used at Pearl and Bintulu is the “Fischer-Tropsch Process” developed in Germany in the 1920s due to a shortage of petroleum resources and taking advantage of an abundance of coal (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fischer%E2%80%93Tropsch_process ). It was further developed by Sasol in South Africa during the 1970s to address the shortage of oil caused by the oil embargo.
LondonLad refers to the “Fischer-Tropsch” process as SMDS (Shell Middle Distillate Synthesis) and implies that it is something newly developed by Shell. It is neither new nor was it developed by Shell. The technology was proven 75 years before Bintulu exploded, and similar plants have been in operation in South Africa since the 1970s. The only difference was that the South African plants did not have to contend with smoke from forest fires.
LondonLad: Again you miss my point and don’t answer the question!! Indeed Bintulu was shut down for 2 years after the explosion in the Air Separation Unit. What was the cause? – minute atmospheric particles stemming from the forest fires which blanketed Borneo and which entered and accumulated in the ASU resulting in an explosion. This was NOT related to SMDS technology. My question is Bintulu a success – well for Malaysia and all interested parties it would appear so as they are now on to Train 9. Outsider, I think you are a glass half-empty man who does like progress (particularly from Shell).
Releived: With regard to the Prelude FLNG project I think we can all agree that Shell is trying something that has never been tried before and that it does not have the corporate culture necessary to manage that facility safely. It does, in fact, have the poorest safety record of the major oil companies. So, it is reasonable to say that management has embarked upon a development program it does have the will or the where-with-all to manage and reduce the risks associated with this project to a manageable level. We only need look and BP and its Thunderhorse project. Hence, it is reasonable to presume that sometime in the future there will be an 'incident' that is serious. One can only hope Shell has been able to obtain proper insurance for this venture.
Outsider: LondonLad: The first Bintulu plant was destroyed in an explosion and fire, with numerous injuries to people on site. If this is your definition of success, God help the crew of the Prelude.
LondonLad: You miss my point Outsider. Of course there is a risk with anything a human does, be it as a single person or as a company. Let’s face it most accidents occur in the home. Should we stop progress just because of the risks involved – no as far as I’m concerned. That’s my point. As long as most risks (of course ideally all, but humans are involved here) have been identified and addressed then projects should go ahead. Comparing Prelude to a 1934 Texas refinery (plus picture) is not a direct comparison. Sure, I remember the Bintulu GTL problem well but it shouldn’t stop / delay Prelude. Has Bintulu been a success or failure? The former I believe for both Shell and Malaysia. I’m sure the glass half-full people will jump at this conclusion.