Energy Club

Northern Territory

Prelude shutdown

05 Feb 2020 11:31 AM | Sonia Harvey (Administrator)

OPERATION of the world’s largest offshore facility, Shell’s embattled Prelude floating LNG vessel, has descended into chaos with back up power generation failing, cardboard potties issued to replace regular toilet facilities and a fleet of helicopters called in to reduce crew numbers.

Only last week Shell chief executive Ben van Buerden told analysts the Prelude was evidence of how new assets would improve the gas giant's cash flow in 2020. 

"Once we reach steady-state operations, we expect one carrier a week to offload LNG, LPG or condensate," he said. 

A week later achieving consistent nameplate output from perhaps the most complex offshore facility ever built looks some time off.  

Prelude has had consistent problems with its steam-driven power generation facility and on Sunday experienced another electrical trip. This time the backup diesel generators failed to power up which "impacted certain amenities onboard" according to a Shell spokesperson. 

This impact included the toilets. Temporary toilets were assembled on every level of the Prelude's living quarters and instructions issued to crew: "People are to defecate into cardboard bedpans and place the pan in a plastic bag and seal it securely." Crew with lesser needs were allowed to continue to urinate in "toilets that are not full." 

Otherwise, bottles and buckets were recommended. 

Tuesday's crew newsletter seen by Energy News that detailed the new sanitary arrangements also advised of the arrival of five helicopters that morning to take crew off to reduce the total number of people on board.  

Shell use Sikorsky S-92 helicopters from CHC Helicopter to service the Prelude, each with the ability to ferry 19 passengers. It is understood that 70 crew were taken off. 

The Shell spokesperson said production had been suspended and work was underway to restore full operations and the issues with crew amenities were being resolved. 

"We have made the proactive decision to temporarily reduce the number of people on board," he said.

Source: Energy News Bulletin

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