The Export-Import Bank of the United States (US Exim) has provided a US$1.8bn direct loan for an LNG project in Australia.

The loan will be made to BG Energy for the Curtis Island project in Queensland, which is expected to produce its first gas in 2014. It will fund US equipment and services used on the project, and support over 9,000 US jobs. It takes BG’s undrawn committed bank borrowings for the project to US$5.2bn.

US Exim hasn’t as yet confirmed any details of the transaction, but the bank has previously been criticised for funding LNG projects in the region, which falls within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Environmental groups in California filed a lawsuit against US Exim in December 2012 accusing it of funding construction works that would place the reef in jeopardy. Previously, the bank provided Australia Pacific LNG with a US$3bn loan for similar projects near Gladstone on Curtis Island.

In response to the environmental issues, a US Exim spokesperson told GTR in a written statement:

“After a thorough review, this project was deemed to be in accordance with provisions of the bank’s environmental procedures and guidelines. US Exim’s review of the environmental and social effects of private-sector projects such as the Queensland Curtis LNG project draw upon the requirements of the performance standards on environmental and social sustainability of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the applicable environmental health and safety (EHS) guidelines of the World Bank, as well as local laws, and any applicable US laws (such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act).

“Moreover, US Exim’s environmental procedures and guidelines are consistent with the OECD’s “Revised Council Recommendation on Common Approaches on the Environment and Officially Supported Export Credits that was adopted in 2007.”