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Project Prelude – A case study in the generation of real material debt

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Comment By Bill Campbell (Retired HSE Group Auditor Royal Dutch Shell International) on the article published in The Australian: “Shell chief Ben van Beurden backs FLNG program

Interesting use of terminology by BvB, real material cash, what other type is there rather than funny money.

Prelude dumped from super star gamechanger status to important tool, an aspirin rather than a panacea for all ills, has certainly generated, and it appears will continue to generate, something of a debt mountain for RDS. $15 billion and counting has been allocated to finance the venture outflowing since at least 2007/8 at commencement of conceptual and then detailed design. I may be wrong, but I thought the production start date was given at the time when the first metal was cut in the yards in 2010, as 2016 – now it will be a least 10 years till 2018 before the project will start generating revenue. Our esteemed contributor London Lad, who knows a thing or three about project economics, will confirm, if he feels so inclined, that the breakeven point in any project is determined by how quickly capital spending is halted and operational revenue creation is started. The viability of the project per se, as to whether it will ever add value or be a financial millstone, is determined when production eventually starts by the rate of return of the capital invested, and here BvB hopes for real material cash, and lots of it, and hopefully by 2018 the cash will start to flow. Anybody guess how long it will take for this Project to breakeven?

Anyway its just as well that international lending rates have been very low, over most, if not all of this borrowing period, to finance this costly tool.

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