Shell Ships First LNG Cargo From Prelude

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Shell has sent off its first shipment of LNG from the massive Prelude floating LNG (FLNG) facility, nearly 2 years after its arrival off the northwestern Australia coast.

Prelude is expected to produce 3.6 mtpa of LNG for operator Shell, which co-owns the project with Inpex, Korea Gas, and Overseas Petroleum and Investment. It is the world’s largest FLNG facility, and the last of eight LNG plants built on Australia’s eastern and northwestern coasts during a $200-billion greenfield LNG construction boom over the past 10 years. “Everyone involved should be very proud of the work taken to reach this important milestone,” Maarten Wetslaar, Shell’s integrated gas and new energies director, said in a statement. “Prelude forms an integral part of our global portfolio.” While total costs of the project have never been released officially, consultancy Wood Mackenzie estimates it at approximately$17 billion. With Prelude on-stream, senior analyst Daniel Toleman said that Australia is on track to export more than 80 mtpa of LNG, surpassing Qatar as the largest LNG producer in the world.

First cargo was originally scheduled for 2018, but the project faced lengthy delays. Shell shipped its first condensate cargo from Prelude in March. The delays may affect the facility’s production plateau: Inpex’s onshore Ichthys project, which started production in October, is expected to produce 8.9 mtpa of LNG, more than double Prelude’s capacity. Toleman said Ichthys’ earlier start may have a negative impact on Prelude’s reserves.

“How fast Prelude delivers its second and third cargo, and ramps up to plateau output, will be a key indicator of success. Shell will be keen to ramp up to full production quickly to counteract any reserves impact from the already producing and connected Ichthys field,” he said.

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