(EnergyAsia, May 8 2013, Wednesday) — More than two decades after planners began considering liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the country’s energy mix, Singapore launched commercial operations of its S$1.7 billion terminal this week with the receipt of the first cargo from exclusive importer BG Group of the UK. (US$1=S$1.25).

At the terminal’s launch, Trade and Industry Minister S. Iswaran described it as a key infrastructure in Singapore’s search for energy security and diversification.

“It will also contribute to the development of Singapore as a regional gas hub, catalyse LNG-related business opportunities and create new job opportunities for Singaporeans,” he said.

Starting with two tanks with a combined throughput capacity of 3.5 million tonnes/year, the Jurong Island terminal will be expanded to six million tonnes/year by end-2013 following the completion of the third tank, additional jetties and regasification facilities.

There are plans to add a fourth tank and regasification facilities that will raise the terminal’s capacity to nine million tonnes/year.

Singapore LNG Corp (SLNG) Pte Ltd, the terminal’s developer, builder and operator, said it will enable the nation to import natural gas from around the world, thus enhancing its energy security.

CEO Neil McGregor, who thanked main contractor Samsung C&T as a “wonderful partner”, noted that the project was completed and started up on time while achieving “a world-class safety record” of 14 million man-hours of on-site work without any lost-time injury.

In 2008, Singapore’s Energy Market Authority awarded BG Group the exclusive roles of LNG importer and natural gas demand aggregator for up to three million tonnes per year.

EMA has concluded the first round of industry consultation to determine the framework for the next round of import, and will launch a second round of consultation later this month.

BG Group, which has sold about 90% of its allocation, said it will likely source the LNG from its Queensland Curtis plant in Australia to supply Singapore’s industrial customers including six of the nation’s large power generation companies.

Matt Schatzman, BG Group’s Executive Vice President for Global Energy Marketing and Shipping, said:

“With our modern fleet of vessels and a global portfolio of LNG supply we are able to bring gas supplies from operations around the world and help underpin the country’s rapidly growing economy and demand for energy.”

Having supplied LNG to 24 of the world’s 28 importing countries, the company will look to enhance Singapore’s search for energy supply security, said Dominique van den Berg, President of BG South and East Asia.

In March, Qatargas supplied the first LNG cargo to the Singapore terminal when it was undergoing a trial commissioning.