(EnergyAsia, October 29, Thursday) — Royal Dutch Shell said it plans to develop its Prelude and Concerto gas discoveries in the Browse Basin off the northwest coast of Western Australia, using its untested floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) technology.

Shell said the FLNG solution is an important development for the 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 company has moved the Prelude FLNG project to 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 FLNG facility measures approximately 480 by 75 metres, with the capacity to produce around 3.5 million tonnes of LNG per year, as well as condensate and LPG. When fully ballasted, the FLNG facility weighs around 600,000 tonnes.

Shell said the solution will allow the FLNG facility to 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.

Malcolm Brinded, Shell’s executive director (Upstream International), said:

“Shell is excited to be progressing with FLNG technology, which has the potential to unlock some of Australia’s ‘stranded’ gas reserves that have previously been considered uneconomic to develop because of their small size or distance from shore. FLNG technology adds to Shell’s LNG leadership – we are already the largest LNG marketer amongst the international oil companies, and are technical advisor to many of the world’s LNG facilities.”

Jon Chadwick, Shell’s executive vice president for Australia, Upstream International, said:

“I am delighted that we are planning for the first application of Shell’s FLNG technology to be in Australia. This project will produce LNG, condensate and liquefied petroleum gas during its 20-plus years of operation and it will contribute to Australia’s economy through employment, tax revenue and business opportunities for Australians. This project is fast moving, with Prelude discovered in January 2007 and Concerto in late March 2009.”

Shell is currently working on the environmental and production approvals for the Prelude FLNG Project, with the environmental impact statement soon to be released for public comment. This follows a successful drilling campaign in WA-371-P, in which all twelve commitment wells were drilled, with discoveries of the Prelude and Concerto fields.