The first commissioning cargo of liquefied natural gas (LNG) has shipped from Freeport LNG’s Train 2, marking another milestone for the Texas export facility.

Contractors McDermott International Inc., Chiyoda International Corp. and Zachry Group on Wednesday announced that the first LNG had shipped from the second of three trains currently under development at Freeport, located on Quintana Island on the Texas coast. Train 2 produced its first LNG earlier this month.

The first cargo from Train 2 also closely follows on the heels of the official start of commercial operations at Freeport’s Train 1.

"The ongoing momentum of this project has accelerated us past multiple accomplishments, including Train 1's introduction of feed gas, first liquid and first cargo. And, we are well on our way toward commercial operation for Train 2," said McDermott's Senior Vice President Mark Coscio, who oversees North, Central and South America for the Houston-based energy contractor. "I commend the project team for delivering these results and getting us closer to substantial completion."

Freeport’s Trains 2 and 3 remain on schedule, with Train 3’s initial production expected during 1Q2020. Freeport has also secured the financing for a proposed fourth train to add more than 5 million metric tons/year (mmty) to the existing project, increasing total export capability to more than 20 mmty. KBR Inc. is the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the fourth train.

Meanwhile, in another sign of the emergence of natural gas as a global commodity, the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) on Thursday announced a new record for open interest in its Dutch Title Transfer Facility (TTF) futures and options.

The global exchange operator said open interest reached a new high watermark of 2.21 million contracts for TTF. As of Tuesday, TTF open interest was up 73% year/year.

According to ICE, the surge in volume shows that TTF “is becoming increasingly internationalized and embedded across financial markets, cementing its status as a global benchmark for natural gas.”

The first wave of U.S. LNG export facilities has contributed to a surge in global supply. While Europe has played a a key role in bringing balance to the market this year, natural gas stockpiles are brimming there to start the winter.

According to NGI’s LNG Insight, the Gulf Coast spot month netback price (futures settle minus shipping costs) for TTF was $3.928/MMBtu on Thursday. That’s compared to the $4.130 netback for the United Kingdom’s NBP (aka the National Balancing Point) and $3.526 netback for the Japan/Korea Marker.