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Shell’s Floating Marvel, Prelude LNG, Set to Make a Splashy Comeback Amidst Winter Demand Surge

There was talk of shutting down Prelude for a year to fix issues, but Shell opted for a shorter maintenance stint. There was a fire, a trade union dispute, a shutdown, a cyclone season – it’s like Mother Nature herself was questioning the wisdom of this floating giant.

Posted by John Donovan: 27 November 2023

Ah, the ever-so-grandiose Shell is at it again with their floating behemoth, the Prelude LNG facility. After what feels like an eternity of tinkering, adjusting, and possibly duct-taping, Shell is almost ready to flaunt this colossal floaty once more. Set adrift 300 miles off the West Coast of Australia (probably to keep it away from any prying eyes), Prelude is more than just a giant on the waves; it’s a floating testament to Shell’s love for big, expensive toys.

With a price tag that could make even the most seasoned oil tycoons blush (over $12 billion, but who’s counting, right?), Prelude is the first of its kind. A floating LNG facility, because why settle for boring old land-based operations? The facility’s deck is longer than four soccer fields, which is probably enough space to host an offshore corporate retreat.

But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for this maritime marvel. Since kicking off the party in June 2019, Prelude has seen its fair share of drama – including a fire that led to a complete power loss. Ah, the joys of pioneering technology!

Now, after a maintenance saga that began in August, Prelude is poised to resume its role in the global LNG charade. The return is timed perfectly with peak demand during the northern hemisphere’s winter. The LNG tanker Symphonic Breeze (what a name!) is set to grace Prelude with its presence on December 6, signalling the near completion of the maintenance. How poetic!

Shell, in true enigmatic style, has been tight-lipped about the whole affair. Last month, they hinted at a December production ramp-up but offered no juicy details. They’ve described Prelude as a “complex facility in a remote offshore location,” which is corporate-speak for “it’s complicated, and we’d rather not talk about it.”

Let’s not forget the little mishaps and hiccups along the way. There was talk of shutting down Prelude for a year to fix issues, but Shell opted for a shorter maintenance stint. There was a trade union dispute, a cyclone season – it’s like Mother Nature herself was questioning the wisdom of this floating giant.

As we wait for Prelude to spring back to life, it’s worth pondering: is this the future of energy, or just a really expensive way to show off? Only time will tell.

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