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Shell’s ocean giant Prelude a step closer to full start

Shell’s giant Prelude floating LNG vessel is edging closer to production as the accommodation vessel that housed up to 750 workers over the year moves away to allow the final stages of start-up to occur.

The Posh Arcadia accommodation vessel sailed to a station about 6km north of Prelude on Thursday morning, according to vessel tracking website MarineTraffic.

A Shell spokeswoman said the company continued to prepare Prelude for operations. “We expect to see production around the end of the year,” she said.

The target for the next 10 days is less ambitious than that set in March when then Shell vice-president for Prelude David Bird said Prelude would produce material cashflow this year.

First production from the Prelude field in the Browse Basin 475km north of Broome was reported to be scheduled for 2016 at project approval in 2011.

Prelude, which will weigh 600,000 tonnes fully laden, arrived off the Kimberley coast in July last year.

LNG was delivered to the 488m-long vessel in June and October to cool down the equipment in readiness to process gas from subsea wells.

WestBusiness understands that the Posh Arcadia is likely to return to Prelude to allow for the completion of outstanding work.

One task is to start up the last of Prelude’s seven boilers which has been named a “Bunnings boiler” in a Credit Suisse report.

Inpex’s Ichthys Explorer processing facility south of Prelude is still supported by the 500-bed Floatel Triumph accommodation vessel almost three months after the project’s first shipment.

When Prelude reaches full production of 3.6 million tonnes of LNG a year, carriers will complete a 15-hour loading process every five to six days.

Shell’s long-wished-for move into floating LNG will also produce 1.3 mtpa of condensate and 0.4 mtpa of liquefied petroleum gas a year.

Production from Prelude closes the first chapter of Australia’s recent LNG boom.

Many of the just-finished projects are already investing in additional gas supply.

Chevron is spending $US4 billion to drill 11 extra wells for Gorgon stage two.

Ichthys conducted a design competition this year for the best way to add more wells.

It’s understood that Shell will shortly award a front-end engineering contract to bring gas from the Crux field to Prelude, 160km away.


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