Royal Dutch Shell said on Wednesday it has begun output at its Prelude Floating Liquefied Natural Gas facility in Australia, the world’s largest floating production structure.
It is also the last of a wave of eight LNG projects built in the country over the last decade. The project started up later and cost more than originally estimated.
It is expected to further cement Australia’s lead as the world’s biggest LNG exporter, after the country took the crown in November.
In a statement, Shell said wells have now been opened at the Prelude facility, located 475 kilometres north-north east of Broome in Western Australia.
This means Prelude has now entered start-up and ramp-up, the initial phase of production where gas and condensate is produced and moved through the facility. Condensate is an ultra-light form of crude oil.
Prelude is expected to have an annual LNG production capacity of 3.6 million tonnes, 1.3 million tonnes a year of condensate and 400,000 tonnes a year of Liquefied Petroleum Gas.
Shell did not immediately respond to a media query on when first LNG will be exported from the facility. However, analysts estimate exports to start by early next year, with condensates likely to start first.