As the world’s largest LNG exporter, Qatar is starting up a delayed production facility that will export the gas to Britain, a spokeswoman for state-run Qatargas declared of late.

The new gas plant will take Qatar’s annual production capacity of LNG to around 38 million tonnes, from around 31 million tonnes and had been due to start last winter.

State-run Qatar Petroleum owns a 70% stake in the project, while Exxon Mobil holds the remaining 30%. The gas plant, also known as a train, had been delayed as the number of simultaneous energy projects under construction in the Gulf Arab state led to labour and equipment shortages.

“We are in the process of commissioning train 4. Things are progressing well and we expect first LNG before the end of the year,” said the spokeswoman.

An import terminal for the gas is under construction in South Hook, Wales, with Exxon noting last month that the terminal will start up in the third quarter.

A further train was due online in 2009, the spokeswoman indicated, while each train has capacity to produce 7.8 million tonnes per year of LNG.

Qatar sits on the world’s third-largest gas reserves and aims to boost LNG capacity to 77 million tonnes in 2010. LNG production in Qatar is split between two companies, Qatargas and Rasgas, both of which are majority owned by Qatar Petroleum.