Filters for a swimming giant

Korean shipyard Samsung Heavy Industries is currently building the Shell Prelude FLNG Facility...

Korean shipyard Samsung Heavy Industries is currently building the Shell Prelude FLNG Facility – the world’s biggest ship. The ship is a swimming natural gas refinery, which should produce gas starting from 2017 in the offshore fields off the coast of Australia.

On board are of course, BOLLFILTERS. They will be used for seal gas and lube oil compressors. The floating facility will chill natural gas to –162°C, shrinking its volume by 600 times for easier transportation. Until now, the liquefaction of offshore gas has always involved piping the gas to a land-based plant. Now the liquefied natural gas (LNG) as well as further by-products can be directly transferred to special LNG tankers at sea and shipped to customers all over the world.

The huge floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) facility will have a length of 488m from bow to stern and a width of 76m. Here is some comparative data to better visualise the dimensions:

  • The Cologne Cathedral is “only” 157m high and could be put on the Shell Prelude three times.
  • For football fans: The length corresponds to four soccer fields laid end to end. When fully equipped and with its cargo tanks full, the Shell Prelude will weigh more than 600,000 tons - roughly six times as much as the world’s largest aircraft carrier.
  • Some 260,000 tons of that weight will consist of steel – the steel used for the Eiffel tower in Paris has a weight of 7,300 tons.

The Prelude FLNG facility is expected to stay moored 200 km off the Northwest Australian coast in 250m-deep water to produce natural gas for approx. 25 years. Oil company Shell is counting on the rapidly growing market for liquefied natural gas (LNG) and the development of natural gas fields in remote areas far off the coast. The project will cost more than eight billion EUR, but that is far less than the typical costs for building a pipeline.

If someone now wonders what happens when this giant ship gets hit by a storm, this should not be a problem according to Shell. The facility has been designed to withstand the most powerful tropical cyclones.