We were excited when we heard that Shell is building the world’s largest floating object – until we realized that it is going to be a natural gas refinery. Albeit an engineering feat that is supposed to withstand category five cyclones, after a long history of Titanics, Fukushimas, and Deepwater Horizons, having an explosive floating gas refinery in our already compromised oceans makes us more than a little concerned. Called the Prelude FLNG, the massive refinery/city will be moored in Australia’s North West coast.

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Spotted over at DVICE, this story troubles us on a variety of levels. Not only will the floating refinery, which is bigger than the most obnoxious tanker conceivable, require an extraordinary amount of natural resources to build, including 260,000 tons of steel, but the 1,600 foot long monster will hover over off Australia’s coast for 25 years. There it will suck up refined gas and cool it down to -260 degrees Fahrenheit in order to make it fit for storage and then transport.

Although technologically impressive, this latest news from Shell demonstrates how tenaciously big oil corporations intend to hang on to our fossil-fueled lifestyles (at the expense of every living creature, every untouched landscape, and every clear sky). The monetary and intellectual capital investment behind this giant vessel would be so much better spent on developing alternative energy resources that don’t destroy our planet. Destruction… er, we mean, construction is expected to be complete by 2017.

+ Shell