(EnergyAsia, May 27 2014, Tuesday) — An ExxonMobil-led consortium has exported the first cargo of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from its newly launched 6.9 million tonnes/year project in Papua New Guinea.

The US$19 billion PNG LNG project started up several months ahead of schedule to ship out the cargo to Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc (TEPCO) in Japan, said ExxonMobil PNG Limited. The subsidiary of the US major is operating the project to produce more than nine trillion cubic feet of gas over the next 30 years.

Starting construction in 2010, the company said it took more than 190 million work hours to complete the project. At its peak, the project employed more than 21,000 people.

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, said the project has brought significant economic benefits to the country that will last for generations to come.
“Not only will the people of Papua New Guinea now benefit, their children and grandchildren will continue to enjoy the benefits and positive effects from this valuable resource development for many years to come,” he said.

Neil W. Duffin, president of ExxonMobil Development Company, said:

“Our demonstrated expertise will enable us to progress other LNG opportunities in our portfolio, including expansion opportunities in Papua New Guinea and to meet growing global demand. Disciplined project execution has enabled us to supply Asia’s increasing energy needs and will benefit the people of Papua New Guinea for decades.”

PNG LNG is an integrated development that includes gas production and processing facilities in the country’s Southern Highlands, Hela, Western, Gulf and Central provinces. Nearly 700km of pipeline connect the facilities, which include a gas conditioning plant and liquefaction and storage facilities.

The project’s four major customers are China Petroleum and Chemical Corp (Sinopec), Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc (TEPCO), Osaka Gas Co Ltd, and Taiwan’s CPC Corp.

ExxonMobil PNG Limited’s partners include Oil Search Limited, National Petroleum Company of PNG, Santos Ltd., JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corp, Mineral Resources Development Company (representing landowners) and Petromin PNG Holdings Limited.

Santos, which owns a 13.5% stake in PNG LNG, has described the project’s launch and the sale of the first cargo as marking the beginning of the company’s “transformational growth.”

“A key part of Santos’ growth strategy is the successful delivery of our transformational LNG portfolio.  Santos is well and truly a key player in the LNG market,” said managing director David Knox.

“PNG LNG will quadruple Santos’ LNG production once the project reaches full output.”