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The Times

Prelude to brighter future for gas runs into a storm

Emily Gosden Energy Editor: Monday 17 Jan 2022

In the open ocean more than 120 miles off the coast of Australia lies Prelude, Shell’s floating liquefied natural gas plant — the biggest floating object ever made. The energy group spent billions of dollars building the vessel, the length of four football pitches, to tap gas beneath the seabed in this remote location, superchill it to a liquid and offload it to tankers to sell worldwide.

Prelude was the first floating liquefied natural gas plant ever sanctioned when Shell approved it in 2011, a bold bet on the belief that LNG would be in increasing demand. Shell was right. Gas prices have surged to record highs and traders are scrambling to secure cargoes of LNG.


The excellent article goes on to pose the question of whether the Prelude floating liquified natural gas plant is “A giant mistake”

Some important points covered in the extensive article:

  • On December 2, a dangerous fire broke out on Prelude.
  • In the consequential emergency shut­ down Prelude lost power.
  • According to a leaked Australian regulator’s report, the back-up emergency generators failed.
  • Without air-conditioning, the crew sweltered in 45C heat
  • Some required consequential medi­cal treatment.
  • Steel structures started to cool towards dangerously low temperatures, threatening “catastrophic failure…”.
  • The problems at Prelude are an embarrassment for Shell.
  • Shell must now satisfy the regulator that the plant is safe.
  • The headline in the informative graphics poses the question: “A giant mistake?” and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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