(Bloomberg) -- Eni SpA said it is moving toward first production this year from liquefied natural gas projects in the Republic of Congo that will focus on supplying Europe. 

The first vessel is now being converted into a floating LNG production facility with capacity of 0.6 million tons a year, Eni said in a statement. A second FLNG ship with annual capacity of 2.4 million tons will begin operations in 2025. 

Congo’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso and Eni Chief Executive Officer Claudio Descalzi on Tuesday laid the foundation stone of Congo LNG, according to the statement. 

The project was fast-tracked to help meet Europe’s rising need for LNG to replace Russian gas imports, which have slumped since the invasion of Ukraine. Congo will join other West African countries including Angola and Nigeria as LNG exporters, adding to a rising number producers of the fuel across the continent.

The project will include the installation of two floating LNG plants at the Nene and Litchendjili fields, which are already in production, and at other fields yet to be developed, Eni said. 

Read: Europe’s Dash for Energy Means Rigging Up LNG Plants at Sea

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.