Shell's New Offshore Gas Mining Monstrosity: The Largest Floating Thing Ever

Posted by Andrew Price

Don't be fooled by initial appearances. That isn't just another boat. It's Shell's new natural gas mining machine, which just got final investment approval, and it's mind-bogglingly huge. At 1,600 feet, it's longer than four football fields and weighs six times more than the heaviest aircraft carrier. Apparently, it will also be able to withstand a "one-in-10,000-year" category 5 cyclone. It's so big, in fact, that there seems to be some confusion about what to call it—a "facility," a "vessel," a "floating structure"? It's in a category of its own.

Called the Death Star the Prelude, it will float off the coast of Western Australia, getting the hard-to-reach natural gas in the area and processing it on site.

I'm not sure this is what Obama had in mind when he asked for Sputnik-style innovation. I get that humans need energy, and our options are limited right now, but it would be great if we were undertaking projects of this scale and ambition that were designed to harness a source that's truly renewable.