Global liquefied natural gas exports from the Gulf Coast are set to expand as the first of three trains at the Cameron liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in Louisiana achieved first production Tuesday, developer Sempra Energy said.

"Reaching this important milestone of first LNG production is truly a credit to the team at Cameron LNG and the work they've done to reach this point," said Sempra LNG COO Lisa Glatch. "Cameron LNG expects to load cargoes in the coming weeks -- another major step forward to bringing cleaner, affordable energy to global markets."

President Trump was set to travel to the Hackberry, LA, facility Tuesday afternoon to commemorate the milestone and speak about how the industry is creating jobs and boosting U.S. exports.

However, the commander-in-chief’s remarks are clouded by an escalating trade war with China, in which the White House last Friday increased tariffs to 25% from 10% on $200 billion worth of Chinese products. Beijing then retaliated Monday with higher tariffs on a revised list of $60 billion worth of U.S. products, including an increase to 25% from 10% for LNG cargoes arriving June 1 and beyond.

Cameron LNG began receiving gas flow for testing last month as it reached the final stage of the commissioning process, which began in November after major construction for Train 1 had been completed. Phase 1 of the Cameron LNG export project includes the first three liquefaction trains to enable the export of 12 million metric tons/year (mmty), or 1.7 Bcf/d.

Completion of the second and third trains has been pushed back to the first half of 2020, with longer construction schedules and commissioning for those units, Sempra management said during a quarterly conference call earlier this months.

Cameron LNG is jointly owned by affiliates of Sempra LNG, Total SA, Mitsui & Co. Ltd., and Japan LNG Investment LLC, which is jointly owned by Mitsubishi Corp. and Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha. Sempra Energy indirectly owns 50.2%.

“Total’s commitment to Cameron LNG and its expansion is in line with our strategy to continue building a strong position in the U.S. LNG market,” CEO Patrick Pouyanné said. “With Cameron LNG start-up, we will achieve our target of being integrated along the gas value chain in the U.S. since we are already a gas producer in the country.”

Total entered the Cameron project when it acquired Engie’s LNG business last year, extending its reach into the U.S. LNG market. In addition to its partnership in Cameron, Total in late 2016 took a 23% stake in Tellurian Investments Inc., which has proposed the Driftwood LNG export terminal in Louisiana. Total increased its stakes in Tellurian in April.

Earlier this month, the Department of Energy approved worldwide exports up to 3.88 Bcf/d from Driftwood, which is proposing to export up to 27. 6 mmty from Lake Charles, LA. Tellurian, however, has yet to reach a final investment decision on the export project.