Enclosure specialist Intertec is supplying high performance environmental protection cabinets for Shell’s ‘Prelude’ floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) project – 200km off the northwest coast of Australia.

Shell’s Prelude FLNG project is setting new engineering records. Designed to liquefy natural gas extracted from subsea wells by chilling it to -162 degrees Celsius, and to then store the liquid until it is offloaded to large LNG carriers, the vessel will be the largest in the world, with a length of 488 metres and a width of 74 metres. The hull of the vessel was constructed in South Korea and launched in December 2013. Due to enter service in 2017, the vessel will be towed to the Prelude and Concerto gas fields in the Browse Basin near Timor, about 200km off the northwest coast of Australia, where it will be permanently anchored for about 25 years. After this time it will be inspected, overhauled and possibly moved to a new location, where it will be expected to provide a further 25 years of service.

Much of the on-line process analysis instrumentation on the Prelude FLNG vessel will be housed in purpose-built environmental protection cabinets supplied by Intertec. In total, the company is supplying 90 cabinets for sample conditioning systems and 30 cabinets for process analyzers, each designed to match the instrumentation content and layout precisely in order to optimise thermal performance.

As Intertec’s Commercial Director, Hans Geiger, points out, “Only three of the 120 cabinets that Intertec is supplying for this project are the same size. Our specialised design and automated manufacturing capabilities enable us to produce custom environmental protection products very easily, to optimise performance and match the space available on demanding applications like this.”

The cabinets that Intertec is supplying are required to be capable of withstanding severe Category 5 tropical cyclones with wind speeds in excess of 252km/h (157mph) and to have a minimum service life of 25 years - with 50 years as a design aim. Additional requirements include a high degree of resistance to corrosion being caused by the saline environment and the presence of sour or acid gas, and the ability to cool electronics equipment without using explosion-proof air conditioning systems, which incur high capital and operating costs.

The intended operating environment for Shell’s Prelude FLNG vessel poses significant instrumentation protection challenges. The Browse Basin is very close to the Equator, which means that it has a tropical climate with an average temperature of about 32 degrees Celsius. This moist and hot environment, combined with a salt-laden atmosphere, is highly conducive to rust formation, making non-metallic protection cabinets a sensible design choice. In some of Prelude’s more confined spaces, the ambient temperature could reach more than 50 degrees Celsius. Even under these extreme conditions, all of the passively-cooled cabinets that Intertec is producing for the project are designed to keep their internal air temperature below 35 degrees Celsius.