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Prelude a giant production and processing barge masquerading as a ship

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By John Donovan

A parliamentary inquiry into the safety of floating LNG (FLNG) processing plants is underway in Western Australia this week.

On 28 December 2013, I published an article revealing that a whistleblower inside the Shell Prelude project – the first of these gigantic processing plants, had contacted me.  The person in question supplied me with internal information and photographic evidence supporting his anxiety about potentially dangerous, shoddy workmanship.

The whistleblower was intimately involved in the project at a high level and had deep concerns that warnings issued to Shell (and other parties) were ignored and financial considerations were taking priority over safety issues. He was particularly anxious about alleged use of totally unqualified personnel.

One of our contributors has aptly commented about Prelude, which is destined for Australia:

Shell’s Prelude LNG ‘ship’ is not really a ship, per se, because it has no means of self propulsion. It will be towed to location and anchored, supposedly for the life of the gas field exploitation project. This vessel is nothing more than a giant production and processing barge masquerading as a ship.”

I published a further piece on 10 January 2014, followed by a series of related articles by experts.

According to the article published today about the parliamentary inquiry, it will consider evidence presented by the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority and Shell Australia.


Last week the Maritime Union of Australia said that the safety of such vessels is untested, “as there are no such facilities operating anywhere in the world,” and as such was not covered by existing international and national safety regulations.

Their comments reinforce the warnings contained in the articles we have published.

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