Australia: Shell Gets Federal Environmental Approval for Prelude FLNG


Federal environment minister Tony Burke today approved, with strict conditions, Shell’s Prelude floating LNG facility in the Browse Basin off the coast of Western Australia.

“While there are significant economic benefits to these projects, which must be a consideration in my decision, my focus has been on protecting environmental matters,” Mr Burke said.

“I have looked at this proposal and the advice of my department carefully, and determined that the Prelude floating LNG facility would be acceptable under national environment law.

“This is a large-scale project that is using world-first technology. We can’t risk getting it wrong, so I have set very strict conditions to help ensure our precious marine environment will be protected.

“To ensure the facility’s environment impacts are reduced as much as possible, the start of operations will be dependent on several plans getting my approval.

“Shell must develop an oil spill contingency plan, to the Government’s satisfaction, specifying how it will minimise the risks of oil spills and how it will minimise the environmental impacts in the event of an oil spill. Should such an accident occur, the company will pay for any environmental rehabilitation needed.

“Because the Prelude facility is proposed to operate entirely within Commonwealth waters, greenhouse gas emissions fall under my jurisdiction, so a condition of my approval is that this must be addressed.

“Shell must develop a greenhouse gas strategy, which must be made publicly available, that will detail the measures and offsets it proposes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the project will not be able to begin until I am satisfied the strategy is acceptable.

“The company must put in place measures to reduce light pollution, address noise impacts, manage introduced marine pests, and minimise waste—all to be outlined in an operations environment management plan.

“Shell will also be required to submit—and make publicly available—an environmental performance report detailing how it has adhered to the approved plans and strategies, and my department will be able to audit the project at any time to ensure the company is complying with the approval conditions.”

Shell’s FLNG solution is an important development for the LNG industry, with its ability to process gas ‘in situ’ over an offshore gas field, reducing both project costs and the environmental footprint of an LNG development.

Shell is the Operator and 100% equity holder of the WA-371-P permit, containing the Prelude and Concerto fields, which would be developed sequentially. While pending a Final Investment Decision, the Prelude FLNG Project is now in the Front End Engineering and Design (FEED) phase of development. FEED for Prelude is being undertaken as part of Shell’s contract with the Technip-Samsung Heavy Industries consortium for the design, construction and installation of multiple FLNG facilities.

The dimensions of Shell’s FLNG facility are approximately 480 by 75 metres, with the capacity to produce around 3.5 million tonnes per annum of LNG, as well as Condensate and LPG. When fully ballasted, the FLNG facility weighs around 600,000 tonnes.

Shell’s FLNG solution means the facility can be re-deployed to another gas field once production at one gas field is complete, and its standardised “design one, build many” approach allows repeatability gains to be captured during design and construction phases. It is suitable for more distant offshore fields, remains on station during harsh metocean conditions such as cyclones, and can process a wide range of gas compositions.

Source: Australian Government, November  12, 2010;

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