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Exxon's Papua New Guinea LNG project ahead of schedule

(New throughout, adds details and share price)

April 28 (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp said a $19 billion project in Papua New Guinea had started production of liquefied natural gas (LNG) ahead of schedule.

Exxon said at its analyst meeting in March that the project was due to start during the middle of this year.

The first cargo from the project, which would also produce piped natural gas (PNG), is expected to be shipped to Asia markets before the middle of this year, the company said.

Exxon said the project, operated by affiliate ExxonMobil PNG Ltd, was expected to produce more than 9 trillion cubic feet of gas over 30 years of operations.

Exxon is relying on projects like the one in Papua New Guinea to fuel much-needed production growth at the world's largest publicly traded oil company.

Shares of Exxon ended at $101.17 on the New York Stock Exchange. So far this year, the company's stock is flat, compared with a 1 percent gain in the Standard & Poor's 500 index (Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bangalore, additional reporting by Anna Driver in Houston; Editing by Kirti Pandey and David Gregorio)