Take the Empire State Building, lay it on the ground and add another 150 feet. Then put it out to sea. That's essentially what Shell did today with the launch of the 1,601-foot Prelude mega-ship.
At 600,000 tons and 243 feet wide, when the Prelude left its dry dock in South Korea after a year-long build, it unseated the Emma Maersk (1,302 feet) as the world's largest ship. But calling it a ship is almost a misnomer. The Prelude is a floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) facility that will be posted off the coast of Western Australia and will stay there for the next quarter-century.
As an FLNG plant, the Prelude handles everything involved in capturing, processing, and storing liquid natural gas, sucking the stuff from deep within the Earth and refining 3.9 million tons each year before it's offloaded onto smaller ships that bring it back to the mainland.