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Alarm Bells Still Ringing About Shell Prelude

By John Donovan

Printed below in italics is the content of an email sent earlier today to the Australian National Offshore Petroleum and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) by Bill Campbell, a retired senior Shell HSE expert and long-term Shell shareholder. Bill led Health, Safety and Environmental Audits for Shell worldwide. His credentials to comment on such specialist issues are impeccable.

Bill’s email to NOPSEMA is about an article published days ago by the Brisbane Times under the headline: Shell’s Prelude gas vessel faced ‘catastrophic failure’ from power outage. It was authored by a tenacious energy journalist Peter Milne who has been responsible for a series of revealing articles in recent years about the $24b Prelude vessel.

Bill’s connection with Prelude stretches back even further. I first contacted him nearly a decade ago after a high-level whistleblower in the Prelude project sent information to me which rang alarm bells among the experts I contacted. The bells have been ringing ever since in terms of risk and escalating costs.


Reference recent article in Brisbane Times suggesting that catastrophic damage to the vessel hull could follow from a prolonged power failure when main generators were down, and emergency generators and auxiliary generators were not available (in the circumstances as explained by Peter Milne) the vessel could suffer catastrophic damage,

Q 1 – Is this fact or fiction, it was said to be based on a NOPSEMA report! Should this report not be made public or at least provided to the installation employees and Safety Representatives as I assume is your statutory duty to make them fully aware of the risks they face.
Q 2 – If not true, do you not have the duty to reassure the employees offshore and their families and society in general that these claims are not valid

If NOPSEMA considers that the events explained in the articles are a credible risk to the persons on board the installation why is this hazard and its consequences not covered in the Installation Safety Case, the Shell submissions to the WA government, and the WA government Inquiry into Prelude FLNG risks where safety in the design of the Hull, LNG storage, sloshing, ballast etc made no mention of any formal safety assessment related to cooling of the structure and mitigation against such cooling as covered in the said article?


Previous coverage of Prelude…

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 and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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