After being several months behind schedule, the $4bn Yemen LNG project is set to deliver its long-awaited first cargo this summer.

Yemen LNG will lift its first cargo in midyear, with operations starting by the summer, reports claim Yves-Louis Darricarrere, President of Exploration and Production at Total SA (a shareholder in the project), has suggested.

Technical problems and a shortage of labour saw the project fall behind schedule, yet all that is expected to change this summer when return on investment begins and the LNG product is delivered. With a capacity of 6.7 million tonnes per year from two trains, Yemen LNG will provide cargoes to the Asia Pacific and Atlantic Basin markets for its primary customers in North America and South Korea.

In addition, it will potentially add new customers in the future as the second train begins operations during the third quarter.

The company has chartered the 294.6 m Seri Balqis vessel for the lifespan of the project, having been built at the Mitsubishi shipyard in Nagasaki, Japan. A further three ships, notably the Seri Balhaf, Maersk Arwa, and Maersk Marib, are also thought to be dedicated to the project.

Record industrial investment
Feedstock gas for the liquefaction plant will be derived from Block 18 in the Marib area and delivered via a new 320km main pipeline to the liquefaction facilities in Balhaf. The site will also have two 140,000cu m LNG storage tanks, as well as desalination, waste water, and steam generation plants.

The project represents the country's largest-ever industrial investment, from which the government expects to earn $30-50bn over the next 20-25 years.

The liquefaction plant at Balhaf is on the Shabwah coast, 200km southwest of Mukalla and 400km east of Aden.