Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Energy and persistence conquer all things.
-Benjamin Franklin
When you think "big" technology perhaps your mind goes to the military with tanks, battleships, the Pentagon building (world's largest office building in floor space). But this is peanuts compared to civil engineering. Imagine the size of hydroelectric dams, skyscrapers, thousands of miles of roads through all types of terrain, etc. And then think of the equipment used to make these. Giant dump trucks with tires taller than a person. Cranes as large as a city block.

The Shell gas company is creating a new entry in the competition for "big". The Prelude Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) facility will be nearly one-third of a mile long and tip the scales at up to 600,000 tons; that's six times heavier than America's largest aircraft carrier. FLNG will be a floating drilling rig and refrigerator used to extract, cool and offload liquefied natural gas into tanker ships. Starting in 2017 it will stay permanently moored at the Prelude gas field northwest of Australia for the next 25-plus years.

Bottom Line

Ann Pickard, chair of Shell in Australia, says that the Prelude FLNG facility will be a "game changer for the energy industry."

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