Shell's Prelude FLNG Shuts Down Due to Electrical Fire

prelude FLNG
File image courtesy Shell

Published Dec 6, 2021 10:07 PM by The Maritime Executive

Shell's Prelude LNG, the largest floating plant for natural gas liquefaction in the world, has been partially evacuated due to the impact of an electrical fire. 

At about 2300 hours local time on Thursday, a fire started in an electrical compartment aboard Prelude LNG, a massive $12-billion-plus offshore liquefaction plant located about 200 nm off the coast of Western Australia. 

Prelude's fire systems detected the blaze and brought under control. However, the facility lost power shortly after the fire broke out. 

"The area was made safe by the systems in place and it did not spread further. All workers on the facility are safe and accounted for. While work is underway to restore main power, production on Prelude has been suspended temporarily," a Shell spokesperson said in a statement. 

None of Prelude's crewmembers were injured in the fire and all are safely accounted for. Shell has evacuated all non-essential personnel, leaving only a skeleton crew of responders.

Shell is investigating the cause of the fire in conjunction with Australia's National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA). 

Since it started up in June 2019, Prelude's operations have been repeatedly disrupted by electrical faults. An "electrical trip" launched a shutdown that spanned most of 2020, along with two incidents of a "loss of hydrocarbon containment." If Shell can resolve the technical issues aboard Prelude, it hopes to produce 3.6 million tonnes of LNG per annum. 

The renewed shutdown at Prelude will be a financial disappointment for Shell, as East Asian spot prices for LNG are extraordinarily high - well above $35 per MMBtu.