The Australian offshore regulator NOPSEMA has ordered Shell (LSE:RDSA) to stop production at its Prelude floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) unit until the energy major can demonstrate the giant floater’s ability to recover power and services safely.
Repeated attempts to establish stable electricity supply at the FLNG unit was jeopardising the health and safety of staff onboard. “The failure to restore reliable power was seen to represent an ongoing impact and risk to the health and safety of the personnel on the facility,” said NOPSEMA.
LNG production at Prelude offshore Western Australia could remain shut for months.
The 488 metre long Prelude, the world’s biggest FLNG unit, has been beset with problems since it shipped its first cargo of LNG in June 2019. Prelude was shut down in February 2020 for nearly a year after a reported electrical problem. The floater had previously suffered two incidents that saw the unintended release of gas, which NOPSEMA described as “dangerous”. Shell restarted production in January 2021 and it steadily produced LNG over 2021.
Shell operates Prelude FLNG with a 67.5% interest. Its partners include INPEX (17.5%), CPC (5%), and KOGAS (10%)
The FLNG facility can produce at least 5.3 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of liquids: 3.6 mtpa of LNG, 1.3 mtpa of condensate and 0.4 mtpa of liquefied petroleum gas.