Japan's Inpex Corp. said on Oct. 22 it has sent its first liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipment from the giant Ichthys project in Australia.

The LNG vessel Pacific Breeze departed the onshore liquefaction plant at the Ichthys LNG Terminal in Darwin late on Oct 21, and is scheduled to arrive at Inpex's Naoetsu LNG receiving terminal in Japan around the middle of next week, a company spokesman said.

The announcement was in line with Reuters' report last week that the loading of LNG was under way. The shipment marks an important milestone for Inpex. The $40 billion project has had multiple delays and significant cost overruns.

Ichthys LNG will develop reserves of more than 3 billion barrels of oil equivalent located offshore Western Australia, including around 500 million barrels of condensate. At full capacity, the offshore facilities and the two-train onshore liquefaction plant will supply 8.9 million tons per year (mtpa) of LNG and 1.65 mtpa of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), along with 100,000 barrels of condensate per day.

LNG is currently being produced from the first liquefaction train, with the second train expected to start up as well in the coming weeks.

Malcom Roberts, chief executive of Australia’s largest oil and gas association, APPEA,  congratulated Inpex and its Ichthys LNG joint venture participants on the first cargo from the project.

“Industry applauds this first LNG shipment using the purpose-built Pacific Breeze destined for the Inpex‑operated Naoetsu LNG terminal in Japan,” Roberts said in a statement.

“This world-class LNG Project—seven years in the making—will deliver jobs, taxation and export revenues for Australia for decades to come,” Roberts continued..

“More than 30,000 people worldwide have worked on this project, including up to 10,000 workers in Darwin during the plant’s construction phase, providing a major economic boost for the Northern Territory.”