* Wheatstone’s first LNG cargo going to Japan’s JERA
* Wheatstone part of massive Australian LNG export programme (Adds detail, graphic)
By James Regan and Henning Gloystein
SYDNEY/SINGAPORE, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Australia’s Wheatstone liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, after starting production earlier this month, has shipped its first export cargo to a buyer in Japan, majority owner and operator Chevron Corp said on Tuesday.
Wheatstone is the sixth out of eight projects in a $200 billion Australian LNG construction boom that is now in its final stretch. The two remaining project due to for start-up are Royal Dutch Shell’s Prelude floating LNG project and Ichthys, led by Japan’s Inpex.
Wheatstone’s first cargo will be delivered to one of foundation buyers for the project, Japan’s JERA, Chevron said in a statement.
JERA is a joint venture launched in 2015 between Chubu Electric Power and Tokyo Electric Power to procure fuel supplies. It is the world’s biggest buyer of LNG.
Wheatstone’s start-up earlier this month came slightly later than expected.
Australia’s massive expansion in LNG production has propelled it past Malaysia to become the world’s second-biggest exporter of the super-chilled fuel. Once all the nation’s mega-projects are completed, Australia will challenge Qatar as the world’s biggest LNG exporter.
The LNG market will be focused on how smoothly Wheatstone progresses following the troubled start-up at Chevron’s bigger Gorgon LNG project. Both projects are fed from offshore natural gas fields in the state of Western Australia.
“At full capacity, the Wheatstone project’s two train LNG facility is expected to contribute around six percent of the Asia Pacific region’s total future LNG production, delivering 8.9 million tonnes per annum of LNG for export to customers in Asia,” Chevron said.
“The project’s domestic gas plant also has the capacity to produce 200 terajoules per day of domestic gas for the Western Australian market,” it said.
Reporting by James Regan in SYDNEY and Henning Gloystein in SINGAPORE; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri and Tom Hogue