Novatek, Russia’s largest independent gas producer, is on track to produce liquefied natural gas from its Arctic LNG 2 project by the end of the year, according to executive chairman Leonid Mikhelson.

The project’s first train has left a specialist yard in Belokamenka, near the port of Murmansk in the north of Russia, to arrive at the Gydan Peninsula in West Siberia in August.

Speaking at the yard after the official tow-out ceremony earlier this week, Mikhelson said the train will produce first LNG before the end of this year.

“During the first quarter of 2024, Novatek is scheduled to reach the nameplate capacity [of 6.6 million tonnes per year]”, Mikhelson was quoted as saying on a Novatek social media channel.

The concrete gravity-based structure (GBS), with the train installed on top, was pulled out of the yard by 14 tugs under the watchful eye of President Vladimir Putin, who attended personally, underscoring the importance the project and wide-scale support the government extended to Novatek in its maiden project, Yamal LNG, and now Arctic LNG 2.

The freed dock in Belokamenka will be dried up for works to begin on casting concrete for another GBS that will host the third train of Arctic LNG 2.

Novatek said earlier that the installation of assembled LNG and supporting modules on a GBS for the second train of Arctic LNG 2 in a neighbouring dock is continuing.

Speaking to Russian-state television channel Vesti, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said that once Arctic LNG 2’s three trains are commissioned and reach full capacity, Russia hopes to grow its share in global LNG deliveries to 12% from the estimated 9% today.

Novatek still plans to install the second and third trains of Arctic LNG 2 before the end of 2026 despite a need to reconfigure the project’s power supply after international sanctions made it impossible to use gas-fired turbines and other equipment supplied by the West.

The reconfiguration has led to a decision to build a 1.5 gigawatt power plant onshore the Gydan Peninsula to supply electricity to the LNG trains to drive compressors and pumps.