Inpex Corp. said Tuesday that the first shipment of liquefied natural gas produced as part of its project in northern Australia departed for Japan late Monday evening.
The first Japanese-operated LNG project abroad, called Ichthys, began production at a gas field off the northwestern coast of Australia in July and is expected to gradually increase its annual output to roughly 8.9 million tons of LNG, 70 percent of which is intended for Japanese users.
The company’s 300-meter-long purpose-built LNG tanker carrying the first shipment left a gas liquefaction plant in Darwin for the Inpex-operated Naoetsu LNG terminal in Niigata Prefecture.
Seiya Ito, the company’s chief in Australia, said in a statement that the first cargo shipment marks a “historic moment” for Inpex, Japan and Australia.
Ichthys was originally slated to commence production by 2016 but faced multiple delays. The project’s first shipment of ultralight crude oil came earlier this month. Shipment of liquefied petroleum gas is also scheduled to start later this year.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to visit the project site when he travels to Darwin in November.
According to the Australian government, Australia is the second-largest LNG exporter in the world, currently selling almost 80 million tons of LNG per year.
Japan is the largest importer of Australian LNG, accounting for roughly 80 percent of sales, according the Reserve Bank of Australia.