South Korean shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries floated partially built tanker-shaped vessel - Prelude - at its southern shipyard in Geoje
Liquefied natural gas platform cannot be called a ship as it is unable to move under its own steam and must be towed
Vessel's storage tanks have a capacity equivalent to approximately 175 Olympic swimming pools
Commissioned by Dutch energy giant Shell, the facility is due to be delivered by September 2016
Prelude will operate in a remote basin around 295 miles northeast of Broome, Australia, for around 25 years
Pity the poor deck hands on this monster. Its bow and stern are half a kilometre apart and you could fit four football pitches onto it.
Now, the world's largest 'floating facility', which is longer than the height of the Empire State Building, has taken to the water for the first time.
South Korean shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries floated the partially built tanker-shaped vessel - named Prelude - at its southern shipyard in Geoje on November 30.
The 1,601ft -long (488m) floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) platform cannot be described as a ship because it is unable to move under its own steam and must be towed.
But its specifications are impressive, outstripping the 1,453ft (443m)-tall Empire State Building in New York.
Once complete, the facility will weigh more than 600,000 tonnes fully loaded, displacing the same amount of water as six of the world's largest aircraft carriers.
And at 242ft wide and 360ft high, it is expected to produce 3.6million tonnes of LNG a year - and its storage tanks have a capacity equivalent to approximately 175 Olympic swimming pools.
Commissioned by the Dutch energy giant Shell, the vessel is due to be delivered by September 2016.
In a press release on its website, Shell said Prelude would operate in a remote basin around 295 miles northeast of Broome, a town in Western Australia, for around 25 years.
It is an all-weather facility designed to withstand the most powerful category-five cyclone.
Which is just as well as it will be producing enough gas to supply a city the size of Hong Kong.
As Prelude leaves dry dock for the first time, developer Royal Dutch Shell wants to consolidate its advantage as the first mover in floating liquefied natural gas - an as-yet untried technology for which Prelude will be the flagship.
The oil company's technicians are designing something even larger and tougher than Prelude, a vessel that will need to last 25 years moored in the Indian Ocean's 'cyclone alley' off Australia's northwest coast.
'Yes we will move bigger and move into more extreme environments,' said Bruce Steenson, Shell's general manager of integrated gas programmes and innovation.
'We are designing a larger facility. That will be the next car off the rails.'
Prelude, which analysts says may cost over £7billion ($12bn) to build, is a potential game changer for the oil and gas industry. Escalating costs forced backers to dump their original, land-based LNG plant plans, and in September this year, they decided to go ahead with Shell's FLNG technology instead. Browse's developer, Woodside Petroleum, said in October it may use as many as three of the FLNG vessels that Shell is developing along with Samsung Heavy and oil and gas engineers Technip.
An even bigger FLNG plant than the ones to be built for Prelude and Browse could make life more interesting for the competition.