Anglo Dutch major Shell may be the first company to build a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant off northern Australia, according to an energy consultant.

Shell, Inpex and Santos are studying floating LNG technology, which has not yet been commercially deployed.

Poten & Partners senior LNG consultant Daryl Houghton told Bloomberg that the technology may be suitable for stranded gas deposits that are too small and far from the coast to be profitably established through onshore facilities.

He said that the project is likely to become operational after 2015 and Shell could be the first company to start it.

In July this year, Shell presented a contract to Technip and Samsung Heavy Industries to design, develop and erect floating LNG plants over the course of 15 years.

Samsung said that Shell could order ten units worth nearly $5bn each.

A floating LNG facility is the preferred development option for Shell’s wholly owned Prelude field located in Australia’s Browse Basin, the company said.

The technique is also being contemplated for the Timor Sea-based Sunrise project, which is a joint venture with ConocoPhillips and Woodside Petroleum.

More than 12 projects in Australia and Papua New Guinea are trying to exploit a predicted rise in LNG usage in Asia as a greener alternative to oil and coal.