Shell's Bigger Boat

“We’re gonna need a bigger boat,” said the man in the movie. Somebody at Shell Oil must have said the same thing. But at Shell, they’re not just asking for bigger. They’re going for “biggest.” Under construction now at the Samsung Heavy Industries shipyard on Geoje Island in South Korea, the Prelude when completed will be 105 m tall, 488 m long, 75 m wide and will weigh 600,000 tonnes when fully loaded. It will be the largest ship ever built.

But Prelude is much more than a very, very big boat. It will become the world's first floating LNG plant—or FLNG in the terminology of the industry. Shell plans to skip the difficult and time-consuming process of building a pipeline from a land-based LNG plant to the ships that carry the gas where it’s wanted. The company plans to do the entire process at sea. The Prelude, when complete, will be moored some 100 miles off the northeast coast of Australia in the Prelude oil field.

Big dream, big money, big project—and also big risks. There have to be a lot of folks at Shell having at least one or two sleepless nights over the continuing collapse of oil and gas prices. The entire story, including some cool graphics, is here.

Meanwhile, on a much more mundane level, yesterday the European Chemicals Agency  (ECHA) added six new substances of very high concern to the REACH Candidate List for Authorization. Also, ECHA updated an existing entry to address an additional reason for inclusion. The entire list now contains 161 chemicals of known risk. Might want to check this list if you’re doing business with the EU. See list here. (PDF)

And in the Don’t Do the Crime if You Can’t Do the Time Department, four executives and two lower-level employees were indicted yesterday in the Freedom Industries chemical spill that polluted the drinking water of 300,000 West Virginians. Today might be a good day to check up on the maintenance plans at your facility. Just sayin’.