Yamal LNG was granted state permission to commission the main technological facilities of the LNG plant's first stage, the company said on Tuesday.
According to the statement, the project includes the first liquefaction train, 58 gas wells, and the respective infrastructure.
Evgeniy Kot, the general director of Yamal LNG, said that obtaining permission to commission the first LNG train is the cumulative result of many months of hard work.
"We not only maintained our strict project deadlines, but we also expect to launch the second and third LNG trains ahead of schedule," he stated.
The design capacity of the first LNG train is 5.5 million tons per annum.
"Yamal LNG plans to begin shipping LNG before the end of 2017," the statement read.
The timely delivery of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the Yamal LNG facility is unusual in the LNG industry, said a Wood Mackenzie expert on Tuesday.
Senior Research Manager, Russia Upstream Oil & Gas at Wood Mackenzie, Samuel Lussac, said that LNG projects often experience significant cost overruns or delays.
The Yamal LNG terminal located on the Yamal Peninsula in the Arctic port of Sabetta, plans to have an output capacity of around 16.5 million tons per year, and was expected to be fully operational by 2018.
Lussac said that with this first exported LNG cargo, scheduled for Dec. 8, domestic gas supplier and majority stakeholder in the facility, Novatek will become a global LNG player.
He also said largely owing to its low-cost upstream base, the Yamal LNG will offer competitive prices for short-term LNG global oversupplies.
"Even though an important milestone has been achieved, there are still risks associated with Yamal LNG performance and logistics," he said and added that the plant’s first operating months will show whether the plant can operate smoothly in the harsh Arctic environment.
"The Northern Sea Route transportation is in its early stages of development, and its feasibility as a major LNG delivery route is unclear," he said.
By Gulsen Cagatay