Pretty soon there's going to be a new world's biggest ship. Cool, right? It's probably going to sail the seas, laden with toys for children and cute animals, and bring joy to every dock. Like a reverse pirate ship, sent on missions to cheer up any city that needs it, overflowing with wonderful goodies and puppies and tons of mylar balloons with smiley faces on them. Right? That's probably what it's going to carry.
Shell will forge the hull of a floating [liquefied natural gas] plant in South Korea by year-end that will be the world’s largest vessel, weighing six times the biggest aircraft carrier, a Nimitz-class warship. Some 5,000 workers will build the factory to produce LNG off Australia’s northwest coast in a $13 billion project that also will shield Shell from escalating costs it would have to pay at the country’s onshore plants.
Rivals from Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd. to GDF Suez SA of France likewise want to turn gas into liquid at sea, where many of the largest finds were made in the last decade. It’s a generational change for a land-based industry that started about 50 years ago in Algeria, where Shell provided technology for Camel, the first commercial LNG plant. Today those facilities typically cost at least $20 billion to build.
“We remove the need for the pipeline and use about 50 percent of the raw materials for an equivalent onshore plant,” said Neil Gilmour, Shell’s FLNG general manager. He’s overseeing construction of the world’s first floating LNG vessel, which will be as long as the Empire State Building, for use by the Prelude venture partners.
Oh, so it's going to be a giant gas refinery. That's cool too, I guess.