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Serious fire dangers at Prelude FLNG

Serious fire dangers at Prelude FLNG

Paul Hunt: Senior Journalist: Energy & Commodities: 08 June 2022

THE union representing offshore oil and gas workers at Shell Australia’s Prelude FLNG facility have outlined serious safety concerns to the safety regulator, warning employees’ lives are at stake because fire suppression systems are not working.

The Offshore Alliance – part of the Australian Workers Union and Maritime Union of Australia – lodged the complaint yesterday which revealed that over 200 smoke detectors on the facility were not relaying to the control room and workers would not be aware of an explosion or fire at the giant floating gas project.

“There is no capacity to take executive actions in response to fire and smoke on these levels,” the union said.

Shell management was made aware of the risk yesterday, but instead of temporarily shutting operations, it continued to conduct offtake operations.

Energy News understands Shell was about halfway through offloading LNG onto tankers for export.

“Shell continued to operate and failed to treat the failure of their fire suppression systems as a pressing emergency,” the complaint read.

“The actions of Shell are putting the health, safety, and lives of all crew members at risk.”

In December, Shell was forced to shut down all operations at the massive facility after a fire started in an electrical utility. No one was injured.

The vessel was only brought back into production in April this year, some five months after the incident.

The unions have also claimed that during offloading operations, an employee who had no panel operator experience was engaged as panel operator during the offtake period.

“The employee had no experience and would not qualify for any deviation to allow them to operate. This needs urgent investigation by NOPSEMA,” the unions said.

In a statement to Energy News on Wednesday afternoon, a Shell Australia spokesperson said safety at the faciity was a top priority.

“The issue does not impact the ability to safely operate the Prelude FLNG Facility, and there are no impacts to people or production as a result of the issue,” the spokesperson said.

“Any issues identified as part of routine maintenance are addressed through our extensive processes in place to identify and manage risk.”

The complaint comes shortly before the trade union announced it would conduct industrial strike action at the facility.

It plans to conduct the strike from this Friday to June 21.

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