(EnergyAsia, January 2 2015, Friday) — UK’s BG Group said it has shipped out the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargo, with a second one to follow next month, from its newly completed US$20.4 billion terminal in Queensland’s Curtis Island in Australia.

The buyer is believed to be Chinese state firm CNOOC, which holds a minority stake in the QCLNG project which is the world’s first to convert coal seam gas or coalbed methane (CBM) into LNG.

BG Group said it the Methane Rita Andrea vessel is delivering the first cargo from the Gladstone terminal while the Methane Mickie Harper will begin loading operations for the second shipment in the first week of January.

The London-listed company expects QCLNG to start up a second train in the third quarter of 2015, and to reach full operating capacity of eight million tonnes/year in 2016.

“The start of production from the plant’s first LNG train is the result of more than four years of development and construction on Curtis Island,” it said.

BG Group holds around 74% equity interest in the project’s upstream resource and infrastructure, and the entire downstream facilities on Curtis Island including the LNG storage tanks and jetty. The project’s upstream assets include an estimated 29 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

“This is an immense achievement which demonstrates the company’s ability to deliver a highly complex LNG project. The start-up of QCLNG is testament to the hard work, skill and dedication of all our employees, partners and customers including the thousands of individuals who have been involved in physically building the plant,” said Andrew Gould, BG Group’s interim executive chairman.

Through a 540-km pipeline network, the QCLNG project connects more than 2,000 onshore wells spread across 4,500 sq km in Queensland state. On reaching the Curtis Island liquefaction plant, the gas is chilled to -162 degrees Celsius to turn it into liquid. This makes it 600 times smaller enabling it to be stored and transported in LNG vessels to markets around the world.

BG Group said water produced from gas wells will be processed at two treatment plants providing supplies for use by local landholders, industry and communities.