Australia has approved construction of a multi-billion dollar gas-export plant that will float out at sea planned by a joint venture between GDF Suez SA (GFZ.FR) and Santos Ltd.

Approval for the Bonaparte floating liquefied natural gas project, to be located about 250 kilometers west of Darwin, was approved by Environment Minister Tony Burke subject to 15 strict environmental management conditions.

The conditions relate to managing the impact on migratory and threatened species, and the marine environment, Mr Burke said in a statement.

The venture 60%-owned by the French company and 40% by the Australian company is aiming to make a final investment decision in 2014 and ship its first LNG cargos in 2018.

It aims to be one of the first ventures in the world to use revolutionary floating LNG technology that can chill natural gas for export out at sea where it lies, rather than having to pipe it back to an onshore processing plant.

Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA) has already made a final investment decision on its Prelude floating LNG project offshore Western Australia, expected to be the world’s first active floating LNG project when it ships its first cargos in 2016.

Australia, buy current estimations, is set to become the world’s largest LNG exporter.