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Expert comments relating to the Peter Milne article for WAtoday:

Shell ordered to shut down Prelude floating LNG until it is safe: 24 December 2021

Comment by Bill Campbell the retired HSE Group Auditor at Shell EP International

Actions by the Regulator should be welcomed.

Not surprisingly, it’s obvious and should be obvious to the keenest shellites that Prelude has serious design and operational problems raising workforce risk levels to unacceptable levels. You simply cannot continue to operate if you are unable to demonstrate through weekly testing that safety-critical equipment, fire pumps and emergency generators et al are available automatically and immediately when called on. This is a legal requirement and a commitment given by Shell in the installations Safety Case.

These devices must also be rated to meet the maximum demand placed on them and should be able to function independently.

The most worrying aspect of the incident on the 2nd of December was as far as the integrity of the Temporary Refuge and the safety of the 250 persons on board it was a minor event, all over with when the battery room fire was extinguished.

A catalogue of errors and failures in the next hour shows you fragile were the safeguarding mechanisms leading eventually to a total loss of communication.

If this had been a major hydrocarbon escalating event, as with Brent Bravo where emergency generation failed along the inverters supplying radios and PA systems, there could have been similar disastrous consequences on Prelude. It’s a warning that should not go unheeded.

You simply cannot respond adequately to any emergency if the OIM cannot communicate with the Fireteams, the assembled crew and the emergency response people in Perth.


Finally, the Aussie regulator goes in hard and not before time.   I guess it will be a while(6months?) before we see Prelude up and running again.  Prelude safety and shut down systems are clearly not fit for purpose and apparently not fully integrated to function as they should. Clearly, all this should have been resolved during the hazard and operating reviews stages during final design approval. The onboard staff must be at their wit’s end trying to run this very expensive facility.  A Brinded legacy ??




Regulator Orders Shell to Keep Prelude FLNG Output Shut Until it Can Prove It Is Safe

OE Staff December 24, 2021

 Australian oil and gas industry safety regulator NOPSEMA has ordered Shell to keep the giant Prelude FLNG facility off W. Australia shut until it can convince the regulator that it can keep the facility properly powered and that the safety systems are operational.

The order comes after production from the floating facility was shut earlier this month after a sudden loss of power, and subsequent failed attempts to re-establish reliable power aboard.

In its report on Thursday, NOPSEMA said: “At around 22:40 on 2 December 2021, the Shell Australia Pty Ltd owned and operated Prelude FLNG facility experienced an unplanned event that resulted in a complete loss of power at the facility, which subsequently led to unreliable and intermittent power availability over 3 days. Multiple attempts during this period were made to re-establish reliable power.”

NOPSEMA said that the loss of power had impacted the habitation and working conditions of the personnel on the facility, and that by December 6, 2021, the failure to restore reliable power was seen to represent an ongoing impact and risk to the health and safety of the person on the facility and NOPSEMA arranged to visit the facility.

“The Inspectors were mobilized at the first available opportunity on 8 December 2021, returning on 10 December. The Inspectors concluded that the operator did not have a sufficient understanding of the risks of the power system on the facility, including failure mechanisms, interdependencies and recovery,” NOPSEMA said.

Lightning, Comms, Safety Systems all affected

According to NOPSEMA, the power failures directly impacted emergency response capability, operation of safety-critical equipment (e.g., communications, access to safety-critical documentation and information, Permit to Work System), and evacuation of personnel by helicopter or boat.

Essential services such as lighting, safety systems, communication systems, potable water systems, sewage treatment and HVAC were affected, too, with seven people treated for heat-related conditions).

The functionality of process equipment required to effectively manage the LNG inventory was also affected.

NOPSEMA thus ordered Shell to keep the LNG production from the Prelude FLNG unit shut, until it can “demonstrate to NOPSEMA’s satisfaction that the facility can safely recover essential power and associated essential services following a loss of power, and that the safety systems and essential support systems operate to maintain safety of personnel.”

NOPSEMA also ordered Shell to develop a detailed plan, schedule, and commitment to timely implementation of all necessary corrective actions, and present the plan to NOPSEMA once complete.

Under the orders by NOPSEMA, Shell is expected, on the first business day of each month starting March 2022, to provide an update to NOPSEMA detailing progress under the orders made by the regulator.

The 488 meters long, Shell-operated Prelude FLNG unit forms part of an offshore development that produces natural gas from the remote namesake field approximately 475km north-northeast of Broome in Western Australia.

The first LNG shipment from the project – originally sanctioned in 2011 – was shipped back in June 2019, via the Valencia Knutsen LNG tanker to customers in Asia. Shell is the operator of the project, with other partners being INPEX, CPC, and KOGAS.

The world’s largest FLNG facility had in January this year resumed LNG cargo shipments, almost one year after a shutdown caused by an electrical trip.




The links below are to a series of articles, many triggered by a well-placed whistleblower directly involved in the pioneering Royal Dutch Shell Prelude project. Includes articles by Mr Bill Campbell above, the retired distinguished HSE Group Auditor of Shell International and another retired Shell guru with a track record of spotting potential pitfalls in major Shell projects.

ARTICLE: Voser wisely abandons an unstable ship: 28 December 2013

ARTICLE: Royal Dutch Shell Prelude to disaster?: 10 Jan 2014

ARTICLE: Shell Prelude FLNG: loss of containment of hydrocarbons almost inevitable: 21 Feb 2014

ARTICLE: What should frighten stiff Royal Dutch Shell shareholders: 15 March 2014

ARTICLE: Tales of the Unexpected and Royal Dutch Shell Prelude FLNG: 28 March 2014

ARTICLE: Prelude FLNG: A case of all your eggs in the one basket: 10 July 2014

ARTICLE: Prelude FLNG risks are on par with modern offshore oil and gas facilities say Shell – but are they?: 23 Sept 2014

ARTICLE: Royal Dutch Shell Prelude Project ‘A Step Too Far’: 25 Sept 2014

ARTICLE: SpaceShip Two: Shell Prelude another pioneering venture fraught with risk: 2 November 2014

ARTICLE: WA turns spotlight on FLNG safety: 11 November 2014

ARTICLE: Prelude a giant production and processing barge masquerading as a ship: 11 November 2014

ARTICLE: Sunday Times Article: Prelude a potential white elephant: 11 November 2014

ARTICLE: Damning Verdict on Shell’s Prelude FLNG Propaganda: 12 November 2014

ARTICLE: Combustible pioneering behemoths – the Hindenburg and Shell Prelude: 21 November 2014

ARTICLE: Key role of Shell lawyers in pioneering Shell Prelude FLNG: 05 December 2014

ARTICLE: The Future of Natural Gas: LNG vs. FLNG: 26 Feb 2015

ARTICLE: The Sydney Morning Herald: WA inquiry shines spotlight on floating LNG safety fears: 8 May 2015

ARTICLE: THE WEST AUSTRALIAN: Delays slow Prelude’s sail-away: 11 April 2016

ARTICLE: THE WEST AUSTRALIAN: Gas industry needs to work harder, innovate: Shell boss: 12 April 2016

ARTICLE: ENERGY VOICE: GE starts production on Shell’s Prelude risers, must withstand a 1-in-10,000-year cyclonic event: 11 April 2016

ARTICLE: THE AUSTRALIAN: Shell chief Ben van Beurden backs FLNG program:13 April 2016

ARTICLE: THE WEST AUSTRALIAN: Enthusiasm cools for Prelude FLNG: 13 April 2016

ARTICLE: BY JOHN DONOVAN: Musings about the OPL 245 Shell/ENI corruption scandal and the sinking confidence in Prelude: 13 April 2016

ARTICLE: BY BILL CAMPBELL: Project Prelude – A case study in the generation of real material debt: 17 April 2016/a>

Hazardex: Shell Australia’s giant Prelude floating LNG project likely to come on stream in 2017: 20 Sept 2016

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