This record delivery, offloaded from the Al Khuwair Q-Flex super tanker, is enough to supply 4.5 million homes with LNG for a week during winter months.

With North Sea gas supplies in decline, a massive shipment is of great significance as it is predicted that the UK will need to import around 40% of its gas demand by the close of this year, rising to 50% by 2010.

The newly expanded National Grid terminal has the current capability to supply the UK with 12% of its gas demand and a capacity to receive and process 3.3 million tonnes-per-year (tpy) of LNG.

This cargo will be pumped down cooled pipes into one of three new storage tanks, each the size of the Royal Albert Hall, completed as part of the terminal’s second phase of development.

Centrica LNG director Simon Bonini commented, “LNG will play a pivotal role in maintaining supplies for British Gas customers as North Sea production declines.”

“This initial shipment is an important step in ensuring we have the ability to import gas from a diverse range of international sources,” he added.

Phase three of the Isle of Grain terminal will include another giant tank and second jetty and, when completed, will increase the facilities capacity to the equivalent of 20% of UK demand.