A first-of-its-kind U.S. natural gas export project offshore Louisiana is gaining more financial wherewithal after Golar LNG Ltd. agreed to jointly participate with Delfin Midstream.

The Delfin LNG project off the coast of Cameron Parish, LA, would be the first permitted floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) project in the United States. A final investment decision (FID) is expected next year, and with a green light the project could be operational by late 2021.

The joint development agreement (JDA) with Golar, considered an FLNG technology expert, likely helps speed up financing, marketing, construction, development and operation, said Delfin CEO Frederick Jones.

Golar’s partnership allows Delfin to “deliver the first floating liquefaction project in North America and lead the second wave of U.S. LNG projects,” Jones said. “Golar’s flexible, floating liquefaction model has proven to be the world’s lowest cost liquefaction solution.”

The Energy Department earlier this month approved worldwide exports of up to 1.8 Bcf/d. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last summer issued a draft environmental impact statement, but it has yet to approve the planned onshore facilities.

Financial details of the JDA were not disclosed. However, Deflin said the partnership would allow Delfin LNG to offer “innovative commercial solutions with reduced credit requirements, mid-term offtake contracts” of about 10 years, and freight-on-board and LNG pricing “based on fixed price, S curves or tied to a variety of energy indexes.”

Delfin LNG has four primary components:

Golar’s first LNG vessel, the Hilli Episeyo, is nearing completion at the Keppel Shipyard in Singapore and is scheduled for delivery in 3Q2017. Its second vessel, Gandria, is awaiting a final investment decision. Golar now is developing the Mark II next-generation system, which would be used for the Delfin project with more than 3 mmty of capacity.

Delfin’s port is to be sited on the Outer Continental Shelf, around 50 miles offshore at the UTOS pipeline, currently the largest gas pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico. The brownfield deepwater port would require “minimal additional infrastructure investment” to support the proposed project.

The LNG project was handed a positive record of decision in March from the U.S. Maritime Administration.

“Golar’s proven execution model will allow Delfin to deliver the lowest cost liquefaction solution in the North American market with a construction time of less than three years,” said CEO Oscar Spieler. “Golar’s low cost modular floating technology will allow Delfin to make FIDs in 3.0 mmty increments at a lower unit cost than large land-based projects.”