Feeds

Giant megaships to suck 'stranded' Aussie gas fields

Biggest vessels ever to feed world's BBQs, patio heaters

High performance access to file storage

Energy globocorp Royal Dutch Shell has announced plans to deploy a fleet of monster processing ships - the biggest ever constructed - to exploit so-called "stranded" gas fields, ones which can't be harvested economically by conventional means.

Artist's impression of an FLNG ship in operation, with a gas supertanker alongside to receive cargo. Credit: Shell

In an announcement yesterday, Shell said that the first targets for its proposed Floating Liquid Natural Gas (FLNG) mega-ships will be the Prelude and Concerto gas fields in the Browse Basin off the northwestern coast of Australia. Normally these fields would need long undersea pipelines to the shore, and then the building of massive processing plants at the small, remote pearling port of Broome (permanent population 14,000). Finally a terminal for LNG tankers would have to be built - and all these expensive facilities would be written off once the gas played out.

But Shell's plan now is instead to build an enormous FLNG floating processing plant, a massive 600,000 ton ship which would moor above the wellheads out at sea and turn their gas into LNG, LPG and other products. Tankers will tie up alongside the monster FLNG ship to take on their cargoes, which can then be hauled out to customers worldwide.

The enormous 480m long ships will be so massive, according to Shell, that they'll be able to shrug off even the most devastating typhoons and remain on station sucking gas. And once the fields are played out, the equipment doesn't have to be abandoned - rather the FLNG megavessel can move on to another "stranded" gas field somewhere else.

Shell has an agreement in place with Samsung Heavy Industries and Technip of France for the construction of the FLNG superships, which would by most measures be the largest ever built. The Knock Nevis Ultra Large Crude Carrier supertanker (aka Seawise Giant, Happy Giant and Jahre Viking) - nowadays used as a moored storage tank in the Gulf - comes in at 460m and 565,000 deadweight tons. The French Batillus-class tankers, now all scrapped, were slightly smaller by both measures but a trifle bigger by the alternative gross tonnage method.

At 480m and 600 kilotons deadweight, the FLNGs when built will surely be the new record-holder. They will easily dwarf such flyweights as US Navy nuclear supercarriers, in the 100 kilotons range. Shell do caution, however, that the "final investment decision" on the Prelude and Concerto fields has not yet been taken, so the timetable on the ships isn't yet set.

But Japanese and Australian firms are also eyeing similar plans for exploiting "stranded gas". With gas more and more in demand - LNG burns cleanly compared to other fuels, and liquid gases can be used in diesel engines, patio heaters, combined-heat-and-power plants etc as well as cooking, heating and industry - it appears that if Shell doesn't build its mobile gas plant megaships, someone else probably will. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.