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Exxon’s $19 Billion Papua LNG Plant Running at Full Capacity

Exxon Mobil Corp., operator of a $19 billion liquefied natural gas project in Papua New Guinea, said the development is producing at full capacity after starting ahead of schedule earlier this year.

The milestone follows an increase in output in the last few months, Exxon’s PNG unit said today in an e-mailed response to questions. The plant was expected to be operating at full capacity by the end of 2014, according to a report last week from Citigroup Inc.

“Having reached full capacity within three months of startup is exceptionally good performance by comparison with most international LNG projects,” Neil Beveridge, a Hong Kong-based oil and gas analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., said today by phone.

The project in the Pacific nation with partners including Oil Search Ltd. and Santos Ltd. is targeting an increase in Asian demand for natural gas. The companies are considering an expansion of the development after shipments began from the initial phase in May.

The first stage has a capacity of 6.9 million metric tons of LNG per year. The development has long-term contracts with Tokyo Electric Power Co., CPC Corp. of Taiwan, Osaka Gas Co. and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp.

The project is set to start loading its 15th LNG cargo, Exxon said today.

Beveridge said he expects Oil Search’s production for the year to be toward the high end of the company’s forecast of 17 million to 20 million barrels of oil equivalent.

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