Australia’s petroleum watchdog has given energy major Shell the go-ahead to restart production at its mammoth floating LNG production unit Prelude, reports Rivera.
The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) said it has removed all regulatory constraints on Shell and has no further bars to it restarting production from the giant FLNG Prelude off northwest Australia.
However, neither the regulator nor Shell has provided a timeframe for when production will resume at the 3.6-mta facility and the removal of constraints does not mean the facility can be restarted immediately.
About the shutdown
Prelude was shut down following a fire on 2 December 2021. NOPSEMA said the fire resulted in a loss of power on the unit, leading to an intermittent electrical supply over the following three days as efforts were made to restore the power supply.
NOPSEMA then directed Shell to “demonstrate the facility could operate safely in the event of power loss” before production could resume.
Repairs to the facility were completed earlier this month and the terminal has been awaiting approval to restart production.
Prelude discharged its first cargo in June 2019 but the unit has faced problems. In 2020, Shell was forced to close the unit for 11 months after an electrical trip led to a series of extensive investigations and repairs.
The operator now has the chance to restart production at a time when buyers worldwide are looking at alternatives to replace Russian gas supplies in the wake of Western sanctions against Russia following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Australia ended 2021 as the world’s top LNG producer and is currently the leading exporter of LNG to China, delivering 32M tonnes in 2021. The Australia-based energy services advisory group said this represented a rise of 7.1% over 2020.
Located approximately 475 km northeast of Broome in Western Australia, Prelude FLNG is operated by Shell in a joint venture with Inpex (17.5%), Kogas (10%) and OPIC (5%).
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