The giant Prelude floating LNG facility is close to exporting its first LNG, almost two years after it arrived in Australian waters from Korea during which it has had several problems bringing vessels alongside.
Shell director of gas and new energies Maarten Wetselaar recntly told investors that Prelude had been producing LNG for more than a week and the first shipment of LNG was imminent.
The Spanish LNG carrier Valencia Knutsen, which was moored off Darwin for some days, yesterday moved to the vicinity of Prelude, 475km north-east of Broome, according to vessel tracking site Marine Traffic.
The Valencia Knutsen, helped by three other vessels, briefly manoeuvred alongside the 488m-long Prelude late yesterday before pulling away.
To transfer LNG a carrier must berth alongside the Prelude as the two vessels bob about in the sea and the Prelude “weathervanes” around its mooring turret.
More common floating oil production facilities offload oil to a tanker a safe distance away through long flexible hoses and avoid the difficulties of two vessels being alongside each other.
The Prelude had twice loaded LNG from carriers to use as fuel before it accessed its own gas supply from its subsea wells in December.
In early May 2018, Shell struck problems when it brought the LNG carrier Gallina alongside, according to documents from the offshore safety regulator NOPSEMA obtained by The West Australian through a Freedom of Information request.
An incorrectly assembled tow rope to a tug failed when the 290m-long carrier was just 50m from Prelude, and the operation was aborted.
Nine days later it was thought the Gallina was safely secured to the Prelude by 16 mooring lines that ran through guides on the Prelude called fairleads. As the crew prepared to connect the LNG loading arms a mooring line failed and the Gallina was released and pulled away.
Afterwards, it was found that all 16 lines had been significantly damaged by rubbing against sharp edges of nylon liners in the fairleads.