By Thomas Biesheuvel and Jillian Ward
(Bloomberg) — BG Group Plc is loading the first shipment of liquefied natural gas destined for China at its $20.4 billion project on Australia’s east coast, a company spokesman said.
The BG-owned Methane Rita Andrea ship started loading yesterday at Gladstone, in Queensland state, the Berkshire, U.K.-based company said today in a statement. A second ship, the Methane Mickie Harper, is expected to arrive in Gladstone in the first week of January.
The start of production comes as the third-largest U.K. oil and gas producer struggles with LNG output in Egypt, where it lifted only one cargo in 2014. The company is reining in costs and selling assets to return cash to shareholders as the price of oil slumps. It sold the pipeline feeding the QCLNG facility to Australia’s APA Group for about $5 billion this month.
BG’s Queensland Curtis LNG plant is the world’s first large-scale project to turn coal-bed methane into LNG. The development will supply Asian customers, including China National Offshore Oil Corp. and others in Japan and Singapore.
The project is the first of seven Australian LNG projects to begin output, putting the nation on course to surpass Qatar as the world’s biggest exporter of the fuel later this decade.
The company plans to expand in the third quarter. Output is expected to be about 8 million tons of LNG a year in 2016.
BG rose 0.3 percent to 884.2 pence by 10:23 a.m. in London.
–With assistance from Jillian Ward in London.
Copyright 2014 Bloomberg.