LAGOS (AFP) - Nigeria's multi-billion-dollar liquified natural gas company Nigeria NLNG has said it had shipped the first cargo of gas from its fourth production plant to the United States. A company statement said the consignment from the plant which only began production in November last year was loaded Saturday at the Bonny terminal in southern Nigeria for delivery to the Lake Charles terminal in the United States. NLNG managing director Chris Haynes said Sunday production had also started at the firm's fifth plant, known as a train, which is the last leg of its 2.1 billion dollar (1.7 billion euro) expansion programme aimed at raising earnings from gas exports to four billion dollars per annum. "The start-up of the Train 5 of the Bonny liquified natural gas (LNG) plant took place some hours ago. That means we now have five trains working," he said, adding that output from the five trains would raise Nigeria's LNG output to 17 million metric tonnes per annum. Haynes said with the coming on stream in 2007 of a sixth plant, Nigeria would be able to export 14 million metric tonnes of LNG per annum to Europe and eight million metric tonnes to US markets. NLNG, which is co-owned by the state-run oil operator NNPC, Anglo-Dutch group Royal Dutch/Shell, Italy's Agip and France's Totalfina Elf, started operations in October 1999 at Bonny Island. The massive NLNG taps Nigeria's massive gas reserves and aims to reduce gas-flaring associated with the country's major oil industry by 2008. NLNG has buyers in Europe and America.