Fibre, wi-fi keep most Shell Prelude staff onshore

Flying workers out to floating platform an “exception” rather than rule.

Implementing a subsea fibre optic link to underpin automation and remote monitoring aboard Shell Australia’s forthcoming Prelude floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) platform means it will only need to fly people out to the plant “by exception”.

The energy giant joined fellow LNG operator Inpex in 2014 as a foundation customer for a then-new subsea cable between Darwin and Port Hedland.

The 2000km, $100 million cable was built by Alcatel-Lucent and managed by Nextgen Networks, which is now part of Vocus.

The Prelude project is being closely watched by the LNG sector as a potential model for future gas extraction from increasingly remote offshore fields.

Speaking at this month’s Gastech conference in Tokyo, Shell Australia’s vice president of production, David Bird, said Prelude’s systems would mean flying staff out to the remote floating platform “only by exception”.

The enormous Prelude platform is being equipped with process control, monitoring and automation technology by Emerson. It is also fitted with communications and entertainment systems by Alcatel-Lucent, and both of these are backed by the subsea cable.

Prelude’s operations will be monitored remotely from Shell Australia’s collaborative work environment (CWE) in Perth, which acts as the company’s main operations centre.

Shell has set up other CWEs worldwide which provide similar remote support for offshore operations.

“It’s incumbent on all of us that we minimise

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